Air ticket prices from most major destinations in India to the UAE have increased substantially, according to travel agents and air ticket price aggregators.

The hike in prices was recently noticed by travellers from India to the UAE, and travel agents are citing better job opportunities, improving weather conditions and a safer Covid-19 situation as some of the primary reasons for this trend.

Ticket prices on the Kerala to UAE route are among the highest, given that the highest number of repatriation cases flew to the South Indian state since May this year. According to travel aggregators, a return ticket from Kozhikode International Airport to Dubai is priced at Dh829- Dh1087 for a round-trip on Air India Express.

Similarly, tickets on the Kochi to Dubai route are from Dh937 to Dh1,195. The cheapest Mumbai to Dubai flight tickets are priced at Dh701 and the priciest ticket, on Vistara, is at Dh1,016. Some of these prices are normal for pre-pandemic days. However, return ticket prices were as low as Dh600 during the crisis. Air ticket prices for UAE-India routes remain under Dh700 for most sectors.

"This is definitely an increase in price. It was Dh600-Dh730 only a few days ago. Ticket prices towards the end of October are priced at Dh1,026," said Afi Ahmed, managing director, Smart Travels. "I also suspect there was a sudden hike in prices over the weekend since Air India Express was given a suspension order a few days ago, which was later reversed. Other airlines sharply increased their prices at that time, and wasn't reduced after," he explained.

'Safer to be in the UAE now'

TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travels and Tourist Agency, said, "Airlines are able to foresee the demand, and there is a definite increase in demand for travel from India to UAE largely because people believe it is safer to be in the UAE right now. Job prospects are improving and there is an increasing positive sentiment towards the UAE."

Travel agents such as Harish Kumar, the managing director of Jubilant Tourism, has said his agency is issuing at least 500 visit visas every day. "There is an influx of job seekers and several Indians who have not travelled to India to visit their families in a while are preferring to bring them to the UAE on visit visas, especially since the Covid-19 situation here is far better than India," said Kumar. He added, "I've also noticed that people who have put off their wedding plans are preferring to have a low-key ceremony here by flying in just their close family members."

He also said people are travelling to neighbouring GCC countries from here after completing the 14-day quarantine.

Reverse migration on the rise

In a recent interview with Khaleej Times, Neeraj Agarwal, the Consul for Press, Information, and Culture at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, had said that there is a growing trend towards reverse migration of Indians from India to UAE.

According to the diplomat, roughly 3,000 to 3,300 passengers travel from Dubai to India every day. "Interestingly, 3,500 to 4,000 people are coming back from India every day. As per the primary data we have received from various airlines, many of the passengers were ones who had registered in our database," he explained.

He said the consulate had conducted a survey on one such flight, where it was found that two-thirds of the returning passengers were registered on the consulate's website. "Reverse migration has begun, and it's a healthy sign of the economy opening up. The aviation sector is picking up and people are finding opportunities here in the UAE," added Agarwal.