UAE Announces Expected Rise in Airfares for Summer Flights

Asma Ahmed - | UAE

Travel agents report that bookings for popular destinations like the Maldives have surged by over 10%. However, the increase in demand comes amid concerns that airfares in the UAE and globally might rise due to a shortage of available seats.

Surge in Bookings for Popular Destinations

This shortage is primarily due to delays in aircraft deliveries from Boeing, affecting several local and international airlines.

Airlines face a significant challenge in increasing seat capacity during the busy summer travel season. The summer months see a substantial rise in travel demand as many expatriates in the UAE fly back to their home countries or travel to cooler European destinations, leading to higher airfares during this period.

Ross Veitch, CEO and co-founder of the flight booking app Wego, highlighted the summer season's importance for travel as residents seek to escape the region's heat. Although there is some inbound travel for Dubai's summer events and festivals, the majority of travel is outbound. Veitch advises booking early due to the current supply constraints on flights. Delays in aircraft deliveries have caused capacity issues, likely leading to increased airfares this summer, although the rise may not be as steep as the previous year. Last year, airlines faced significant disruptions, with aircraft parked for maintenance and pilots undergoing recertification.

Aircraft Delivery Delays

Both Airbus and Boeing have experienced delays in their aircraft deliveries. Airbus has pushed back some deliveries scheduled for late 2024 and 2025, adding to the strain on airline capacities. Despite these challenges, Veitch believes airlines have made progress in addressing these bottlenecks, but the advice remains to book flights sooner rather than later.

Executives at Emirates have expressed frustration with Boeing over the delays, as these setbacks hinder their plans for fleet expansion and refurbishment. The impact of these delays is felt across the industry, leading to constrained capacity and potentially higher airfares.

Demand for holiday travel remains strong, with dnata Travel revealing that destinations like Thailand, the Maldives, the USA, Turkey, and the UK are the most popular among UAE residents for summer 2024. The Maldives, in particular, has seen a remarkable 108% increase in bookings between June and September 2024 compared to the same period last year. This growth is attributed to the opening of several new hotels, enhancing the appeal of the islands.

The USA has also emerged as a top destination for UAE travelers, entering the top three most popular locations for summer breaks this year. The trend reflects UAE-based travelers' increasing interest in exploring new destinations. Meerah Ketait, head of retail and leisure UAE at dnata Travel, noted that travelers are taking advantage of new resorts in the Maldives and exploring various attractions in traditional hotspots like Thailand, Turkey, and the UK. The USA's new entry into the top destinations is marked by a focus on major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

Across the summer, 65% of dnata Travel's bookings are for international destinations, while 35% are for UAE staycations. Eid al-Adha has seen a particularly strong demand, with a 40% increase in bookings compared to the wider summer months.

While travel demand is robust, especially for popular destinations like the Maldives and the USA, the combination of increased demand and limited seat availability due to aircraft delivery delays is expected to push airfares higher. Travelers are advised to book early to secure their travel plans amidst these constraints.

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Asma Ahmed
Asma Ahmed
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