x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Heat is on for those aiming to stay cool

UAE residents are paying more for their holiday bookings as air fares rise on higher fuel costs.

Jetting off to escape the summer heat is expected to cost at least 10 per cent more this year as the rising price of oil has led to a big increase in the price of jet fuel.

Oil prices have risen sharply, largely because of the Libya conflict, with Brent crude oil prices recently topping US$126 a barrel.

"The fares have definitely risen," said Premjit Bangara, the travel manager at Sharaf Travel in Dubai. "There has been a spike, primarily because of the fuel prices going up."

He said prices were up by at least 10 per cent compared with last year.

"The petrol prices are skyrocketing, so it has an adverse effect on the bottom line of carriers, so they have to pass this on to end users."

Air tickets to London that were last year selling for about Dh2,200 ($599) are this year going for about Dh2,500," Mr Bangara said. Fares for some subcontinent destinations have increased to Dh1,600 from about Dh1,200, he said.

Jim el Murr, the general manager at Salem Travel in Abu Dhabi, said the present situation reflected that of a couple of years ago. "We had the same increase in 2008, in the fuel surcharge mainly."

He said prices were up this time between 10 and 15 per cent compared with last year, but additional capacity and the growth in low-cost carriers in the UAE was helping to keep prices in check to some extent.

The subcontinent is among destinations proving popular for expatriates going home and those routes are seeing sharp increases in flights as planes fill their seats, Mr Bangara said.

Mr el Murr said, nevertheless, there were still likely to be some good deals for travellers over the summer.

"If there's no rush and all the airlines are not overbooked, there will be special fares," he said. "Demand and supply will really determine the price. There's more airlines coming to Abu Dhabi airport, which gives the clients more options."

rbundhun@thenational.ae