x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Air fares cut during Ramadan

Airlines are cutting ticket prices to stimulate demand as Ramadan, a traditionally quiet travel period, approaches.

Emirates Airline says travel traffic to the UK during Ramadan is high. Above, a passenger checks in at Manchester airport. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News
Emirates Airline says travel traffic to the UK during Ramadan is high. Above, a passenger checks in at Manchester airport. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News

The approaching Ramadan holy month is persuading airlines to slash ticket prices to stimulate demand during a traditionally quiet travel period.

During a time when many UAE residents stay home to observe the religious period with family, airlines are enticing travellers to visit destinations such as Egypt, Cyprus and England.

"Ramadan is traditionally a quieter travel period, which means there are still some great deals to be had," said a spokeswoman for flydubai, the budget airline.

This year it has promised special deals across its network of 38 destinations in the GCC, Middle East, North Africa, Indian sub-continent and Asia.

Last year the airline offered a buy one, get one free deal in which passengers travelling during Ramadan were issued with a voucher for a second free flight.

Ramadan is one of the major driving influences of seasonal demand, said Ibrahim Nalkhande, the chief operating officer of travel at the Planet Group in Dubai.

"Every year, Ramadan has a deep impact on customer behaviour and buying patterns," he said.

Business travel in the region drops because of shortened working hours and the overall decline in commercial activity, he said.

Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline are also promoting attractive fares to select destinations during the holy month. Etihad's "breaking deals" Ramadan sale on its website touts special fares to Beirut and other promotions to Cairo, Cyprus and England.

Emirates, based in Dubai, said Ramadan demand this year was "strong" and noted its key markets for travel during the month include destinations in the Middle East and GCC, the UK, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The airline has also lowered fares this month between Egypt and the UAE.

Some airlines have reduced their flights and capacity into the Middle East during the Ramadan period, according to data from Innovata, the flight schedules firm.

Next month's biggest declines in capacity, measured against services this month, will come from China Southern Airlines, which is cutting its number of weekly seats by 44 per cent.

Royal Air Maroc is reducing capacity by 29 per cent and Jazeera Airways by 27 per cent.

Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Iberia will all reduce weekly seats into the Middle East by more than 15 per cent, with Air Berlin, Garuda Indonesia and Turkish Airlines also cutting back.

The onset of Ramadan also coincides with the winding-down of the busy summer travel period, said Premjit Bangara, the travel manager at Sharaf Travel in Dubai.

"It will definitely be a lean month," he said. Not surprisingly, he said, "travel agents will take their own break in August".

igale@thenational.ae