Holiday plans hit as airfares soar sky-high

July 16, 2014 - 4:20:31 am

By Fazeena Saleem

DOHA: A number of low- and middle-income expatriates planning their summer vacation have been hit hard by a steep rise in airfares, which industry sources put at 40 to 80 percent.

Tickets to destinations like Colombo, Manila, Katmandu and the Indian cities of Chennai, Mumbai and Calicut have been hit by the fare spike, it is learnt.

Most Asian expatriates prefer to spend the Eid holidays and school summer breaks in their native countries. Some travel to Europe and the Far East.

According to industry sources, flights to destinations like the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, and South Indian cities, including Chennai and cities in Kerala, would cost 75 percent to 100 percent more than the normal fare.

A return trip to Colombo would cost approximately QR3,000 and a similar trip to Chennai will cost QR3,500 during the season. A return trip to Calicut would cost approximately QR3,700 and one to Mumbai QR3,400.

Even budget airlines’ fares have jumped by 75 percent and flights to most south Asian destinations are fully booked.

European cities like London and Paris remain the favourite holiday destinations of most Qataris while Dubai is the main shopping stop, according to travel industry experts. Fares to these destinations have also gone up.

“Europe remains the favourite Eid holiday destination for Qataris; some have a special preference for London. There are several others who travel to Dubai for shopping during Ramadan,” said a travel consultant.

A return trip to London in economy class would cost about QR5,700, and the fare can go up to QR7,450. A similar trip to Paris would cost between QR5,800 and QR7,750. A return trip to Dubai can cost between QR1,580 and QR3,200.

Travel agents say that the airfares are subject to fluctuation depending on the date of travel.

“Actually, there is no fare as the current price. It always depends on the date of travel and date of purchase,” said a travel consultant.

“The fare would be lower between July 15 and July 22, but it will increase between July 24 and July 31 due to the Eid holidays. Also, the return fare in mid-August will be comparatively high and in the middle range as many people travel back during that period,” she added.

Industry experts say that airfares skyrocket during the holiday season mainly because airlines make changes based on demand.

“Airlines remove the lowest price from the system, so obviously the fare begins at a higher price. It is a very common practice among airlines,” said a source.