Air ticket prices skyrocket in Kerala-Gulf sector; touch 75K for Christmas, New Year season

The Air India Express, which operates the most services in the Kerala-UAE sector, has already implemented a fare hike for the season. Photo: iStock/Yaroslav Astakhov

Malappuram: Given an anticipated surge in passenger demand during the upcoming Christmas-New Year season as well as the vacation season in the Gulf countries, the air ticket fares in the Kerala-Gulf sector have made a quantum jump to rise by more than six times. While the airline companies have hiked the ticket fares to and fro the Gulf destinations from all four airports in the state, ticket rates in these same sectors from other major Indian cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, remain mostly the same.

Taking note of the situation, various organizations have sought interventions by the central and state governments to prevent airline companies from fleecing the expatriates. The winter vacation for schools in the Gulf extends from the third week of December till the second week of January. The discrepancy in prices has been so sharp that the economy class fares in Etihad Airways from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai, which currently stands at less than Rs 10,000, has moved up to Rs 75,000 for flying on the first day of the New Year. Similarly, a business class ticket, currently priced at Rs 50,000, will cost Rs 1,61,213 on the same day.

The situation in the Kozhikode and Kochi airports is no less different. While the current cost of flying from Kozhikode to Dubai on Etihad is Rs 26,417, passengers will have to shell out Rs 50,000 for the same ticket during the Christmas-New Year season. This means that a four-member family will have to expend Rs 2,00,000 as ticket charges to reach home from Dubai during this period.

The Air India Express, which operates the most services in the Kerala-UAE sector, has already implemented a fare hike for the season. A ticket, which was earlier available at Rs 13,500, will now cost more than half a lakh rupees. Till the current season ends, passengers will have to spend around Rs 40,000 per head to fly to UAE from the four airports in Kerala.

To travel on Air India flights from Dubai to Kerala between January 22 and January 8, passengers will have to pay more than Rs 30,000 against the current rate of around Rs 12,000. Operations to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah too have reported a threefold increase in fares.

The chartered flight that never took off
Meanwhile, an announcement by the state government to introduce chartered flights in the Kerala-Gulf route during the holidays and festival seasons has not yet taken off. Though the state had approached the Union Ministry of Aviation to operate chartered services during the Onam season, the permission was not granted. The stipulations regarding the operation of international flight services pose a major blockade in granting such permission.

As of now, international chartered services are operated only for evacuating people during calamities or for pilgrimage. The Central government also pointed out that the number of services between the two countries was decided based on an aviation agreement signed between the parties. The stipulation posed a technical barrier to launching additional services.

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