Airfares to Gulf region still remains high

High airfares to the Gulf region has put thousands of stranded expatriates in a spot depriving them of chances to return to their destinations.

Despite several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations relaxing travel restrictions after fall in COVID 19 cases, airline tickets remain expensive from Kerala. The decision of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to suspend passenger flights till September 30 has been attributed to high tariffs on foreign and private airline companies.

Airfares on international scheduled flights on selected routes have not cooled off even though India has established bilateral air bubbles with selected countries from July 2020.

Most of the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) want to return to their destinations with GCC nations easing coronavirus curbs. Many of them are forced to book tickets at exorbitant prices as their jobs would be at stake.

The air fare on a one-way trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Kerala is still above ₹25,000 for economy class and some airline companies such as Emirates offer only first class or business class fares which are above ₹90,000. A direct flight to Bahrain would cost above ₹30,000.

However Dubai-based airlines Emirates and the budget airline flydubai will provide free all-day passes to the Expo 2020 Dubai beginning October 1. Passengers travelling to or via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways will also get the offer.

The one-way ticket rate for Muscat and Qatar flights are quoted between ₹40,000 to ₹50,000. Qatar Airways is charging ₹46,000 for Kozhikode- Doha trip. Only Kuwait of the GCC nations still maintained strict travel restrictions.

The airfare to cities in Saudi Arabia is still hovering between ₹30,000 to ₹40,000 even as the administration of the Kingdom relaxed norms for passengers from India who are fully vaccinated with Covishield. Now NRIs will not be subjected to institutional quarantine provided they present vaccination certificates upon arrival and proof of negative PCR tests conducted within 72 hours from the time of departure.

Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also extended the validity of visit visas for all countries issued before March 24. However, the latest data released by the General Authority for Statistics and the General Organization for Social Insurance revealed that a total of 5, 71,000 expatriates including Indians quit the Saudi job market in a year.

With daily infections at a year low and death rate among the lowest in the world, the UAE has lifted the mandatory mask rule at six public places. Also its vaccination rate is near 100%.

From Sunday, Abu Dhabi cancelled its COVID-19 testing requirements to enter the emirate for travellers from any emirate of the country. Incidentally some NRIs shuttling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi had to do over 100 COVID-19 tests during the past one year.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 2:23:14 AM |

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