155 other firms have been issued warnings
A few travel agencies in the UAE are planning charter flights from UAE to cities in India at affordable prices, during the peak summer travel months, Khaleej Times has learnt.
Given the high airfare prices for Indian destinations during the July – August school vacation, travel agencies are offering passengers one-way seats to popular Kerala sector destinations on budget airlines for prices as low as Dh 1,090.
Dubai-based travel agency Equator Travel Management LLC confirmed to Khaleej Times that they are organising a Ras Al Khaimah to Kozhikode Air India Express charter flight on July 5 for Dh 1070 per adult ticket. Infants will be charged Dh 250. Agency officials said they were able to sell out tickets on this flight within a week.
The prices on these charter flights are affordable compared to the current market prices. Air India officials in the UAE also confirmed to Khaleej Times that this charter would be operating on July 5. The prices include bus transport from other Emirates to Ras Al Khaimah, said the agency.
Starting July 1, return airfares to Kozhikode bound flights from the UAE have hit Dh 2,900 and above, according to travel aggregator SkyScanner. The cheapest one-way trip to Kozhikode on July 1 is on Air India Express, where tickets are currently priced at Dh 1,889.
Airfares to destinations such as Kochi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Coimbatore only go below Dh 1,500 after July 25. Most Indian families with plans to travel during this time booked their tickets months in advance.
According to Surendranath Menon, director of sales and marketing at Equator Travel Management, the agency took up the responsibility to organise the charter flight following requests from Indian community members.
“We received requests from many members of the Indian community to organise an affordable travel option to destinations in the Kerala sector. Apart from the school summer vacation time, people are also celebrating Eid-Al-Adha during this time,” he said.
Menon explained, “However, since these are the first summer holidays where passengers can travel to India without any travel restrictions, the demand and price during this time are very high.” Since the prices from Ras Al Khaimah are not as competitive as other airports in the country, clients of Equator Travel Management were able to secure seats on the charter flight.
“We aimed to help people travel at a good price after facing challenges for three years,” he added. Menon said the agency is also working on organising a return flight for the same set of passengers.
Afi Ahmed, the managing director of Smart Travels, said their agency is also planning charter operations to Kerala sector cities Kozhi and Kozhikode on July 5, 6 and 7. The agency is planning to charge passengers approximately Dh 1,150 for a one-way ticket.
“We are awaiting approvals from airline and civil aviation authorities, which we should receive in a day or two. Our main aim is to help people who have not been able to travel for the past three years as the fares are very high. Most middle to low-income groups cannot afford to travel during this time given the high prices,” explained Ahmed.
Many other agencies in the UAE are planning similar charter operations to assist passengers to travel home during the holidays for an affordable price.
In an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, Rupinder Brar, additional director general at the Indian Ministry of Tourism, said she hoped the governments of both countries would work towards adding more flights in this sector post-pandemic.
“We look for a far more robust demand driving more flights because ultimately, it’s all a formula of demand and supply. So, we do look forward to many more flights working between both regions as we look at a post-Covid world.”
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