COVID-19: Seats on Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka routes sold out ahead of UAE flight suspension

UAE has announced a suspension of entry for travellers from 11.59pm on Wednesday

  
Airline travelers wait to clear immigration control at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Airline travelers wait to clear immigration control at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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There are no seats available from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to the UAE ahead of the suspension of flights on Wednesday (May 12), while airfares have skyrocketed five times higher, travel industry executives told Khaleej Times.

They said the UAE residents and businessmen stranded in the four South Asian countries are ready to pay exorbitant airfares to enter the UAE before Thursday (May 13). But they are not able to find even Business or First Class seats, despite willing to pay a premium.

“There are very limited seats and they’re also not available on most routes. There is a huge demand. but we are not getting seats from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. There are few seats available from Karachi only,” said Bharat Aidasani, managing partner, Pluto Travels.

He said airfares have gone up exponentially in the last 24 hours, rising nearly five times. “One-way Karachi-Dubai airfare was Dh2,650, while the normal price was not even Dh500.”

The UAE has announced a suspension of entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka with effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday in a bid to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. After the UAE, Kuwait has also announced the suspension of flights to and from four south Asian countries.

Aidasani noted that seats on Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka routes have been sold out, including Business and First Class.

“Up to five flights operate on these routes and around 80 per cent of them are occupied. So, not many people can be accommodated at the last moment. People who want to come back urgently are willing to pay around five times higher ticket prices,” said Aidasani.

Raja Mir Wasim, manager for MICE and holidays at International Travel Services (ITS), echoed Aidasani, confirming that all seats have been sold out at more than double the prices of average airfare.

“Aircraft generally carry between 150 and 180 passengers. But imagine thousands of people who were supposed to come back to the UAE in the next two to three weeks now want to return to the UAE in the next one day. On the other hand, airlines have also not offered additional flights,” he said.

“Alternative people can come on chartered flights but that is too costly and time is also short to arrange these flights,” he said.

Aidasani said there are a lot of cancellations also happening from the UAE to these four south Asian countries. He sees suspension of flights could continue until May 31 owing to the viral outbreak.

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