x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Routes to Europe, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the Far East are proving to be the most popular for travellers this summer.

DUBAI // School holidays and the rush to escape the region’s soaring heat have driven up international air fares by as much as 34 per cent, with demand for seats exceeding the number available.

“There have been increases in tickets prices because demand has outstripped supply,” said Premjit Bangara, a general manager at Sharif Travel in Dubai.

“We have seen price increases of 10 to 15, and as high as 20 per cent on some routes, as people book over the summer holidays.”

Flights to Europe, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the Far East are proving to be the most popular this summer.

“Ticket prices to the subcontinent have seen the highest increases, as well as the UK and places like Frankfurt in Germany,” Mr Bangara said.

“But most people are heading to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, so that is where the supply for tickets is shortest.

“This happens every year and the airlines tend to get much of their revenue this time of year.

“We get a real mix of expats and Emiratis travelling at this time of year. Most Emiratis will stay in the UAE for Ramadan but go abroad for the Eid holidays at the end of the month.”

Niyaz Thameem, corporate sales manager at Omeir Travel Agency in Abu Dhabi, said prices for flights to cities such as London, New York and Cairo had risen by up to 34 per cent.

The price rises have frustrated some who tried to book tickets.

“I don’t understand why the airlines don’t put more aircraft on the most popular routes,” said Hassan Sheikh, from Pakistan.

“They know that it’s going to be very busy during summer so they should make it easier to travel.”

A return economy ticket on Etihad Airways to Kochi, in Kerala, India, with free date changes is as high as Dh2,620. Economy saver and value tickets to Kochi have sold out for most of next month.

The lowest price for a return Emirates airline economy ticket to Heathrow, London, for travel at the end of next month is Dh5,545.

With the recent civil unrest in Turkey having calmed, many people are choosing the country as a holiday destination and prices have increased by 15 to 20 per cent.

“Interest in Thailand has cooled lately following the military coup but we do anticipate people still to go,” said Mr Bangara. “The main growth areas we are seeing are in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Indonesia and Australia.”

Prices to North America have also risen by about 10 per cent.

“As in previous years, people tend to combine short breaks elsewhere before going to their home countries during the school holidays,” Mr Bangara said.

“The Far East is a popular region for Indians who go there before returning to India for a few weeks.”

Overall, the travel sector has seen large growth in the years since the global financial crisis, he said.

“We are seeing growth approaching the boom years around 2008,” said Mr Bangara.

“Business has really picked up in recent years as people are more confident about their finances.”

Mr Thameem said the temporary closure of the runway at Dubai airport for an upgrade added to demand for flights from the capital.

“In the past we used to have some spare capacity for flights from Sharjah but even those are now getting fully booked at this time of year,” he said.

The demand for flights to Cairo is caused mainly by the school year coming to an end and because many of the teachers in the UAE are Egyptian.

Ticket prices could begin to ease a little from the middle of next month but would remain high at least until September, Mr Thameem said.

nhanif@thenational.ae

The five international cities that have seen the biggest air fare hikes this summer:

London, UK.

New York, USA.

Cairo, Egypt.

Cochin, India.

Kolkata, India.