Even as the so-called ‘revenge tourism’ eases and the travel industry comes out of its busiest period since the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for flights continues to rise. However, airfares to many destinations from the UAE have dropped, with one recording a decrease of 72 per cent this year as compared to 2022.

“Prices will remain dynamic, but there are plenty of deals to be found as airlines compete for travellers,” Hugh Aitken, a flight expert at travel search engine and agency Skyscanner, told Khaleej Times.

According to the agency’s travel trends 2024 report, the destinations with the biggest airfare price drops from the UAE in 2023 compared to last year include Orlando, United States (72 per cent); Malé, Maldives (58 per cent); Rome, Italy (52 per cent); and Munich, Germany (47 per cent).

Bangkok, Thailand; Antalya, Türkiye; and Bali, Indonesia, have seen price drops of between 17 and 23 per cent.

According to Aitken, reasons for the price drops include “airlines stimulating bookings through seasonal discounts as well as adding new routes and capacity”.

The demand for travel looks strong this winter vacation, with flight searches from the UAE in Q4 2023 up 31 per cent compared to the previous year.

Aitken, who is also vice-president of strategic relations and development at Skyscanner, said a strong winter demand, “combined with some limited supply and additional external factors such as rising fuel costs”, has contributed to some higher airfares on average. In fact, prices are up 6 per cent in Q4 2023 as compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, “as airline capacity returns worldwide, we continue to see great flight offers and savings, especially at the route level".

Cost-cutting travel

UAE-based online travel agency Musafir said it has seen a “moderate reduction” in airfares over the past four months to “major” global destinations.

“In September, airfares reached their lowest compared to previous months. On average, the airfares were down by 15-20 per cent,” said Rashida Zahid, vice-president, Operations, at the agency.

She advised residents to plan and book in advance for better deals. “Peak travel seasons include summer vacation, long weekends, major school holidays, popular festivals like Eid Al Adha, Eid Al Fitr and winter vacation. Last-minute bookings, especially during high-demand periods, can be more expensive.”

Non-holiday periods offer more affordable travel options, she added.

According to a survey, travellers plan to reduce their holiday bills by taking a vacation outside peak season. “More than half (56 per cent) of those questioned in the UAE plan to take children out of school in 2024 to make their travel budget go further,” said digital travel platform Booking, citing data from its travel predictions for next year.

About 70 per cent of holidaymakers from the country will look to reduce the cost of their vacation by choosing destinations where day-to-day life is cheaper than in their home city. These travellers will also choose to avoid the expense associated with long-haul flights.

Over 32 per cent of UAE travellers said airfares determine their choice of destination, according to Skyscanner’s travel trends 2024 report.

“With the cost of flights being the most important factor determining their destination choice, value for money remains a key factor for UAE travellers and they are still finding good value flights, especially if they remain flexible on their travel destination and departure dates,” said Aitken.

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