Cost of summer getaways hit as air ticket prices rise

Take our poll: The cost of jetting off on holiday for the summer is soaring as carriers raise air ticket prices for popular destinations on the back of high fuel prices.

Air ticket prices have gone up this year compared with the same time last year for the summer months as airlines pass on high fuel costs to customers, a travel executive said. Silvia Razgova / The National
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The cost of jetting off on holiday for the summer is soaring as carriers raise ticket prices for popular destinations on the back of high fuel prices.

"The airlines get pretty full and this is the time that airlines have their say when it comes to pricing," said Sunil D'Souza, the regional travel director at Kanoo Travel in Dubai. "Airfares have gone up 12 to 15 per cent this year compared to the same time last year for the summer months."

The increase is partly because airlines are passing high fuel costs along to customers during the peak travel season, he said. Additional charges and taxes in many destinations are also to blame, in part, forhigher prices, he added.

Tarique Khatri, the senior vice president of business development at Cleartrip in the UAE, estimated that prices were up by 10 to 15 per cent compared with last summer.

For instance, Etihad Airways is charging fares starting from Dh8,460 (US$2,303) on some dates for an economy return flight to New York at the end of June and Dh5,430 for Dublin.

The cost of a return economy-class flight from Dubai to London at the end of next month on Emirates Airline starts at Dh4,900 and rises to Dh5,890. Flights with Virgin Atlantic for the same trip startat Dh4,740.

"It's got to do a little bit with what's going on [in] the UK," said Mr Khatri. "You've got the [Diamond] Jubilee happening; you've got the Olympics happening. There is a lot of demand for London at this time."

Emirates said in a statement: "Summer is a traditionally busy period for travel from the UAE with large numbers of residents flying out of the country on vacation.

"Like every commercially orientated business, Emirates regularly reviews its fares to reflect market dynamics including fuel price, seasonality and demand."

For its part, Virgin says its fares, on average, are lower than last year.

"Virgin Atlantic fares on our Dubai-London route have decreased year-on-year," said Gretchen Watson, the marketing public relations manager for Virgin Atlantic Airways in the UAE. "Since the turn of the year, market conditions have become tougher with increased capacity, faltering consumer confidence and high fuel prices."

High fares for certain destinations are not hampering demand, however, according to travel agents.

"People are still flying," said Mr D'Souza. "People traditionally plan these breaks, and regardless of the price, they fly. The demand this year is very, very high."

The timing of Ramadan, which begins in July this year, is also affecting trends.

Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss) says that its fares are stable and in some cases lower compared with last year's, as it expects demand to be subdued during Ramadan.

"Our booking outlook for the next three months is slightly lower than last year's figures," said Martin Massüger, Swiss's head of sales for the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan and Iran.

"This is because the holy month of Ramadan starts early this year, thus affecting the longer travel period outside the UAE," he added. "However, we expect a second wave or an uptick during the Eid holidays in August."

Lufthansa said it was also offering promotional fares for the summer.

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