Bookings and ticket prices soar as Philippines prepares to lift UAE flight ban

Travel agents in the Emirates have received double the normal number of inquiries since the announcement

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Bookings for flights to the Philippines have soared after the UAE was removed from its travel ban list.

Travel agents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have said they received double the normal number of flight inquiries.

On Saturday, the Philippines government announced it would lift a travel ban on the UAE and nine other countries from September 6.

The ban was first placed in April owing to concerns about the highly infectious Delta variant.

Flight prices have also increased significantly since the announcement, with tickets ranging from Dh3,000 ($816) to Dh5,000.

About 750,000 Filipinos live in the UAE, with many having sought work to support their families back home.

Muhammad Ali Anwar, general manager of Pinoy Tourism in Abu Dhabi, said the company made more than 20 bookings on Sunday morning.

“There are lots of Filipinos who have been stuck here because of the ban and many who want to go back home to see their families, so they are booking right away,” he said.

“We are receiving more than double than the usual number of inquiries. There is a big Filipino population here, so we expect it will get busier.”

Passengers arriving from the UAE will have to enter quarantine for 14 days, including 10 days in a government-approved hotel or centre, with the other days spent at home.

A PCR test must be taken on the seventh day.

Elizabeth Avong, manager of Kabayan Travels in Dubai, said the number of inquiries had increased since the announcement.

“We made five bookings just on Sunday morning and it is increasing. There is also a huge surge in the number of calls we are getting from people asking about the options of flights that are available,” she said.

Before the ban, tickets were priced between Dh200 and Dh2,000, depending on the airline.

There were also special flights that were helping Filipinos return home.

Now, prices range from Dh3,000 to Dh5,000, even on Cebu Pacific, a low-cost airline that many Filipinos use to fly from the UAE to the Philippines.

Mr Ali said prices increased as a result of the rise in demand and a backlog of tickets purchased before the ban.

“In the past, we have issued tickets that were as low as Dh75 from Dubai to Manila. Now, the prices are much higher, with some starting from Dh3,500,” he said.

Juliet Galutan, a Filipina who has worked as a maid in Dubai for the past 30 years, said she hoped to visit her three children and husband once she saved enough to buy a plane ticket.

“Flights are too expensive right now, but once the prices come down I will visit my family,” she said.

“I have not seen them in four years and with everything that has happened since the pandemic, we are all really missing each other.

“I will save some money and wait for prices to go down and then I will visit.”

Lucy Semera, a maid and nanny in Al Ain, said she had not seen her four children and husband since 2019.

She also hopes to save money and buy a ticket.

“The prices will be high right now, but once they come down, I will buy a ticket,” she said.

“I think lifting the ban was good news for Filipinos here because many were stuck and wanted to go back to their families.”

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Updated: September 06, 2021, 6:49 AM