India-UAE travel: flight bookings soar ahead of Covid-19 restrictions easing

Travellers are booking flights to Mumbai, Kochi and Hyderabad as restrictive air bubble policies end

SpiceJet's first 737 MAX 8 takes-off from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington (Craig Larson photo).
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

India is getting set for an influx of travellers from next week when the country resumes regular international flight services.

From March 27, commercial airlines can fly to the country after nearly two years.

Many people have been waiting on the restrictions to lift — India is now the second most popular destination booked from the UAE for the rest of the year, according to data from travel agency site Skyscanner. The Philippines, which lifted its nearly two-year ban on tourists in February, remains the most popular destination booked from the UAE.

Passengers pass through immigration counters at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. AFP

India resuming its regular schedule of flights is good news for travellers hoping to reconnect with friends and family or looking for a well-deserved break away,” said Laura Lindsay, global travel trends and destination expert at Skyscanner.

“We’re seeing strong demand for trips to India from the UAE, particularly the week commencing April 25, ahead of Eid Al Fitr."

Mumbai, Kochi and Hyderabad top destinations

KOCHI, INDIA Ð Feb 21: Backwater of Kochi in the Indian state of Kerala.  (Pawan Singh / The National) For Travel section- Story by Oliver Good *** Local Caption ***  PS22- KOCHI.jpgPS22- KOCHI.jpg

News of the country's reopening also led to a surge in flight searches via travel meta-search engine Wego.

The company recorded an 18 per cent rise in interest in travel from the UAE to India in the week that the easing of restrictions was announced.

“India will finally resume international flights from March 27, a step many have been waiting for. This will impact the airfares as well as the seat capacity," said Mamoun Hmedan, chief commercial officer and managing director at Wego, Mena and India.

Mumbai, Kochi and Hyderabad top the list for UAE travellers, according to data from Skyscanner.

From India, the UAE is the third most popular destination booked this year, behind domestic travel around India and flights to the UK.

Skyscanner also said that the week commencing March 28, directly after India's flight restrictions ease, is the most popular period this year for travel to the UAE from the country.

Fares to India remain competitive as air bubbles end

Kashmiri boatmen wait for tourists on the banks Dal Lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir. EPA

The end of restrictive air bubble policies with countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman could mean a dip in fares for travel to and from India.

“The air bubbles were expensive and had limited capacity. Now people can choose the most affordable flights and routes that work best for them,” said Hmedan.

“Currently the airfare from the UAE to India is $200 on average and around $235 from India to the UAE, and we expect the airfares to drop more as more flights resume.”

Despite a rise in oil prices around the world, Skyscanner expects fares to India to continue to be competitive.

“As we’ve seen elsewhere, as travel begins to recover in earnest, we expect providers to continue to offer good value and flexibility in order to meet growing demand and remain competitive, which ultimately means more consumer choice. While we may see some carriers increase fares to offset increased costs, most airlines will do everything they can to price attractively to stay ahead of the competition,” said Lindsay.

March and May cheapest months for UAE to India travel

Travel from the UAE to Mumbai is cheapest in May, according to Skyscanner. Unsplash

May is currently one of the cheapest months to fly to India, with return fares from Dubai to Mumbai starting at Dh820.

Abu Dhabi to Kochi in March is another good choice for travellers seeking cheaper fares, with direct return flights from Dh916.

From India to the UAE, fares from Mumbai to Dubai are currently cheapest in April, with tickets from Dh1,063.

March is currently the cheapest month to fly to Abu Dhabi from New Delhi with flights from Dh914. These fares were correct on Skyscanner on March 18, but are subject to change

Travellers hoping to find the lowest possible fares for flights can set up alerts on Skyscanner to be notified when prices drop.

Updated: March 18, 2022, 1:15 PM