Abu Dhabi: Airfares from Kerala to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries have gone through the roof, creating a crisis for families planning a return to the Gulf after the summer vacations. Schools will reopen in the Gulf after the vacation in a week.
The crisis is so severe that no seats are available on direct flights, compelling many expatriates to book tickets on connecting flights through various sectors, paying huge amounts. For instance, the lowest fare on a flight from Kochi to Dubai on Monday was Rs 40,000, which would force a four-member family to shell out Rs 1.6 lakh for a one-way journey.
Incidentally, a one-way ticket cost only a maximum of Rs 19,500 till a week ago. Authorities at travel agencies said that the fares would still go up in the coming days as demand rises. Airlines such as Air India, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are already charging Rs 60,000-90,000 as one-way fares.
Most families prefer to book tickets on direct flights even though the fares are high as connection flights with little children could be strenuous with long delays at intermediate airports. However, the lack of seats on direct flights has jeopardized their travel plans.
“Families reached Kerala in July after schools closed in the Gulf countries for summer vacations and they are now searching for ways to return. However, they now have to pay around Rs 3 lakh for the tickets,” said Asha Rajesh Lal, from Kollam.
With no seats available on direct flights, most of such families have postponed their trip to the Gulf by two weeks. Their present plan is to return to the Gulf after celebrating Onam in Kerala. This has resulted in high demand for tickets till September 15 and steep ticket fares till then. In fact, there is a dip in ticket fares only for travel from the third week of September.
At the same time, parents of children studying in the Gulf are concerned that the delay in rejoining classes would affect the studies of the students. A section of the parents has also demanded more flights to the Gulf in view of the school reopening there. Airline companies should be allowed to operate more flights from all airports in Kerala, including Kannur, said these expatriates.