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UAE flights: Airfares soar as stranded residents rush to book tickets

Joydeep Sen Gupta/New Delhi
Filed on August 4, 2021

Travel agents attributed the overheated ticket prices to a surge in demand, which would take at least a couple of weeks to subside.

With more categories of stranded residents allowed to fly back to the UAE, airfares have shot up by as much 300 per cent.

Starting August 5, residents who have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE; and vaccinated and unvaccinated health workers, teachers, humanitarian cases and those employed in federal and local government agencies can fly to the UAE from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.

No sooner did the UAE authorities announce the easing of travel restrictions than ticket prices shot up.

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Travel agents attributed the overheated ticket prices to a surge in demand, which would take at least a couple of weeks to subside.

“Usually, a Delhi-Dubai one-way ticket costs between Dh750 and Dh900 on economy class. However, the existing ticket prices have crossed Dh2,000 and are likely to go up further, as the demand peaks. The prices are equally high in other sectors as well,” said D.D. who runs a travel agency in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Similarly, Rauf Khan, a Karachi-based travel agent, said that people from neigbourhoods like Lyari and Baldia town have been stuck since the Eid Al Fitr celebrations, when passenger entry was suspended.

“Covid-19 has roiled Pakistan’s economy like several other parts of the world. Many who have been stranded work as petty labourers. The ticket prices are more than twice their monthly income. But what options do they’ve but to take out a loan and buy a ticket in order to put food on the table for their family?,” he said.

These employees are desperate to get back to the UAE as their livelihood depends on it, he added.

Tickets cheaper than alternatives

The inflated ticket fares are far cheaper than the other option desperate residents had resorted to: Quarantine for 14 days in a third country before returning to the UAE.

The so-called quarantine package is at least 15 times costlier than a one-way direct ticket.

Indians and Pakistanis were eyeing Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan or Armenia.

Desperate stranded travellers were also looking at quarantine packages via Ethiopia, Doha (Qatar) and Male (the Maldives).

All these options cost a minimum of Dh6,500 upwards for double occupancy stay in the quarantined country or more than Dh8,500 for single occupancy in a three-star hotel accommodation.

Travel agents said they would refund the money of their clients who have booked a quarantine package.





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