Virus impact: Airlines announce drastic cut in airfares, offer incentives

By: News Desk      Published: 03:22 PM, 10 Mar, 2020
Virus impact: Airlines announce drastic cut in airfares, offer incentives

Amid the spread of coronavirus and a drastic drop in oil prices because of Saudi-Russia oil war, some airlines have announced a reduction in the airfares from the UAE to different destinations across the globe including India, Pakistan.

Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia have also announced a number of other incentives to the passengers. They have agreed to give up fees, cancel the bookings with a complete refund and offer a free-of-cost change in flight.

The above mentioned three airlines said bonus tier miles are also being offered and tier travel requirement will be reduced to ensure that the Skywards members retain their status.

Etihad and Air Arabia said they will waive fees if changes are made to the booking from 7th March to the first week of April. As for the Emirates, the airline will waiver fee if changes are made to the bookings on or before 31st March. 

Ticket prices have dropped considerably after the announcement. For example, a stopover flight to New York on Saudia Airlines is Dh1,938 while the direct flight on Emirates is Dh4,225. The usual price to this sector so close to departure is priced at Dh4,900 and above.

Similarly, the prices dropped in flights out of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi airports as well.

The managing director of a travel booking website, Mamoun Hemdan said, “The average airfare dropped by five percent year-over-year. However, a lot of airlines are offering discounts and deals to make up for the decline in demand.”

The UAE travel demand however seems to be the least affected among the GCC countries, he said.

"The noticeable change is the new destination mix. We see a drop in search from the UAE to China and North Asia and South East Asia countries and an increase in the number of searches to India and Egypt by 40 per cent,” said Mamoun.

He added: “Due to the spread of coronavirus, we are also seeing a shift in the trends as travellers are going more towards staycations. The search for staycations in the UAE has increased year-over-year. Hotel staycations grew by 60 percent year-over-year.

"We also recorded a 54 percent increase in the demand on the searches for resorts in the UAE.”