Surge in travel bookings from UAE for Eid and summer despite increased flight costs

UAE residents eager to get away become creative to avoid price increases

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A huge increase in the number of UAE residents travelling abroad for Eid and throughout the summer is expected this year.

The predicted rise in travel comes despite a 57 per cent rise in the average cost of flights in the region, caused by rising fuel costs and an increased demand for travel.

Experts say there is pent-up demand among travellers keen to make up for lost time due to two years of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

They also expect to see people travelling for longer and spending more than they usually would.

Travellers will be spending more and travelling longer this summer
Mamoun Hmedan, Wego

“As more flights resume and more destinations ease travel restrictions, we see stronger demand for travel,” said Mamoun Hmedan, Wego’s chief commercial officer and managing director for the Mena and India regions.

“The average airfares have also changed as a result. It has spiked for some holiday destinations and decreased for others.”

Mother rethinks plans over fare rises

Dubai resident Anna Parks said she had been planning on returning home to Scotland for a few weeks during the summer with her 2-year-old son to see family and friends.

However, the price jump has caused her to reconsider her plans.

“The price has jumped up so wildly that it’s putting me off flying home this year,” said Ms Parks, 31, who owns a barber shop in Dubai.

“I’m probably still going to leave Dubai but I’m going to look around for a cheaper flight to somewhere else.

“I could get a cheaper connecting flight which would be fine if I didn’t have my child with me.”

Good value in short trips

Countries that have reported a decrease in the average airfare for flights from the UAE include Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which have both fallen by 17 per cent, Mr Hmedan said.

Trips to Turkey fell by 33 per cent in April, with flights now costing Dh700 on average.

But other popular destinations for UAE tourists have reported an increase in price.

Fares to the Czech Republic went up by 17 per cent to Dh770, while flights to Armenia now cost an average of Dh750, a rise of 20 per cent.

Spending more and travelling further

“Our latest data also show that travellers will be spending more and travelling longer this summer,” said Mr Hmedan.

“The average booking value for flights this summer has increased by 57 per cent in comparison to the same period in 2019.

“Hence, despite the increase in airfares to certain destinations, travellers are still keen to travel to make up for the lost time during the pandemic.”

The number of travel bookings for the coming Eid holiday is up by 195 per cent compared to 2021, said a senior figure from dnata, the airline services arm of Emirates.

“In 2021, UAE staycations and the Indian Ocean proved most popular for travellers from the UAE looking to take a well-deserved break over Eid Al Fitr,” said Emily Jenkins, general manager of dnata Travel Leisure.

“While these destinations remain ever popular for travellers, this year, with more destinations opening, we are seeing a broader range of travel options starting to trend, across Asia, Europe and North America.

“The demand for travel is at a high as many countries are opening their borders to tourists once again, and relaxing or removing Covid-19 related travel regulations, easing a passenger’s journey.”

Bali and Singapore are starting to gain traction among holidaymakers along with Thailand, she added.

“The Maldives has remained a number one destination of choice with a spike in demand witnessed in early March from the island nation removing PCR-testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers,” said Ms Jenkins.

She added there had also been a noticeable increase in the average length of stay from last year.

The increase in costs for certain destinations has left some UAE residents having to get creative about where they spend their summer and how they get there.

Airline prices have soared in recent weeks due to a 45 per cent rise in the cost of jet fuel, Bloomberg reported, with the global average for a barrel of oil reaching $160.40 last week.

Dh10,000 cost grounds teacher's US trip

Teacher Alison Watt had planned to make a trip to the US this summer with her teenage daughter after spending some time in Scotland. But the costs involved have made that a non-starter.

“We’re still flying to Scotland but we’re dropping an onward stay that we planned in the US,” she said.

“The original plan was to fly to Tennessee after Scotland and then go back to the UAE from there.

“Adding the US trip was going to increase the cost by Dh10,000 for the two of us.”

Ben Rothwell, another Dubai resident said he had to be creative in planning his route back to the UAE from abroad to keep costs manageable.

“I’m getting a connecting flight from Heathrow to Paris and then back to Dubai because to fly direct would be about twice the cost,” said Mr Rothwell, a teacher.

“My wife and I are flying from Dubai to Munich then to Heathrow and then back here at the end of the summer.”

Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights at Skyscanner, said there were several factors behind the increased cost of airline travel.

“We have seen the recent developments in Ukraine affect oil prices and this has knock-on effects for almost every industry — including travel,” he said.

“Flight prices have been low for the last two years as carriers have used low fares to compete for bookings as travel restarted following the initial shutdown in March 2020.

“However, over the last few months robust travel demand has allowed airlines to price airfares closer to pre-pandemic levels in order to return to profitability.”

Updated: April 27, 2022, 6:42 AM