Kuwait City/Riyadh/Abu Dhabi: The Non-Resident Keralites, who are buoyed over returning to their overseas workplace after many Gulf countries lifted the COVID-19-related travel ban, are literally being taken for a ride by air travel operators. Riding piggyback on the new found demand for air tickets, the airlines are fleecing the overseas travellers.
Some of the hapless NRKs, who have been waiting patiently for their return trip for the last many months, are forced to buy costly tickets with the sole aim of reaching their destination at any cost. For others, a patient wait continues, hoping that the rates will come down soon.
The flights operating on the basis of air bubble contracts are very less in number. Right now, there are only chartered flights and Vande Bharat Mission Services to Saudi Arabia. The airfares will come down only if steps are taken to resume regular services and operate more flights.
The professionals, who are in a hurry to reach their overseas destinations, are hit hard by the new development.
A direct ticket to Saudi Arabia is available in the market for a price range of Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000. But, only those who had taken two doses of COVID-19 preventive vaccines from Saufi Arabia will be allowed to take a direct flight. Others will have to go for costly tickets in the price range of Rs 75,000-80,000 that includes a quarantine package in UAE and other countries.
Though normal flight services have been resumed, the ticket rates have not come down. Jazeera Airways charges something between Rs 96,000 to Rs 140,000 from Kochi for a Kuwait ticket. According to the website of the airlines, the rate would be Rs 85,808 from October 14, giving a little solace to the air passengers.
UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar
The price of a Kochi-UAE ticket starts from Rs 25,000. For Muscat, it will be Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000. A direct flight to Bahrain costs you something above Rs 30,000 whereas in foreign airlines, it will be above Rs 43,000. From Kerala to Doha, the airfare comes within Rs 22,000 - Rs 34,000 price bracket. But for a return trip, it costs you only Rs 8873 – Rs 9255.