Dubai: Full options are finally opening up for travel between the UAE and India, with Emirates airline increasing the frequency of its weekly flights to 170 per week to nine cities in India from early April. As other airlines are also increasing their UAE-India schedules, this may soon affect demand and ticket prices during the Ramadan and Eid period.
The last weeks of March – usually a busy travel period for Indian expats due to the spring school holidays – see fewer bookings – but that is changing fast. After two years of disruption created by COVID-19, the Indian government has decided to restore international flights in accordance with existing bilateral agreements from the end of this month.
This is what prompted Emirates to follow its comprehensive pre-COVID-19 program in India. “This is a big leap from the truncated schedule they were allowed to operate under the air bubble agreements (for the past couple of years),” said Vinamra Longani, operations manager at Sarin & Co, a law firm specializing in the aviation industry. (Emirates currently operates around 88 flights a week to India.)
Fares for tickets between the UAE and India have seen declines in recent days, but the next phase of high demand just ahead and during the Eid holiday will ensure fares do not drop below a certain limit. So anyone looking to travel before Ramadan will see great deals.
Flight frequency increased from March 27, prices decreased due to more available seats
– Mohammed Qamar, Senior Holiday Consultant at Dubai Link
A one-way ticket from New Delhi to Dubai costs around Dh700-800 for the first week of April, up from Dh1000-1500 earlier this year. Mumbai will be a much cheaper option with fares starting at just Dh589. The city of Kochi in southern India is still on the high end, with most airlines charging over Dh1000.
Will other airlines join?
Qamar said it is highly likely that other UAE-based airlines will increase their capacity in India in the coming weeks. “We do not yet have official confirmation from carriers such as flydubai and Air Arabia.”
flydubai, Air Arabia and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi operate several services between the UAE and various Indian cities. On the Indian side, carriers such as Indigo and the recently revitalized Air India are also expected to increase their flights.
Things are also returning to normal at India’s busy airports. Mumbai airport, which counts Dubai and Abu Dhabi among its main destinations, has seen the resumption of around 238 international commercial passenger flight movements after airlines received the green signal from the Indian government.
This Indian government requirement is the only constraint at the moment – once it is relaxed we will see travel return to pre-Covid levels
– TP Sudheesh, Managing Director of Deira Tours and Travels
Mumbai now serves five new international destinations such as Baghdad, Warsaw, Moscow, Helsinki, Ho Chi Minh City, while some destinations such as New York (JFK), Seoul and Tashkent have ceased operations due to the impact of COVID -19.
There is a significant hurdle preventing travel between the UAE and India from returning to normal: mandatory PCR tests. Passengers traveling from the United Arab Emirates to the South Asian country are still required to get tested 48 hours before departure and this has not been welcomed by many travellers.
The number of passengers traveling via DXB is expected to increase between March 25 and 28 and then between April 7 and 9, when schools end for spring break, according to a statement from Dubai Airports.
Emirates said it expects a high number of passenger departures from Dubai due to the upcoming spring break and the end of Expo. “We expect an increase in wait time at check-in due to travel requirement checks and COVID 19 security procedures,” the airline said on its website. “We encourage you to register early and ensure that all relevant documents are ready for registration.”
As travelers take their spring break, Etihad Airways is preparing to receive a large number of passengers at Abu Dhabi International Airport. “With most travel restrictions removed, we look forward to welcoming our guests on board over the upcoming holiday season,” said Terry Daly, Executive Director of Customer Experience, Brand and Marketing. at Etihad Airways, in a press release.