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Business News/ Companies / Deluge-hit Dubai airport slowly returns to normalcy, fares begin to climb
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Deluge-hit Dubai airport slowly returns to normalcy, fares begin to climb

Data from travel portals show that one-way Mumbai-Dubai fares for the next 3-4 days are at around ₹50,000-60,000, against an average fare of ₹15,000-20,000 earlier. Similarly, fares for direct flights on Delhi-Dubai route have also surged to ₹50,000-60,000, against an average ₹20,000-25,000 earlier.

Abandoned vehicles stand in floodwater caused by heavy rain along Sheikh Zayed Road highway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday. The United Arab Emirates attempted to dry out Thursday from the heaviest rain the desert nation has ever recorded, a deluge that flooded out Dubai International Airport and disrupted flights through the world's busiest airfield for international travel. (AP)Premium
Abandoned vehicles stand in floodwater caused by heavy rain along Sheikh Zayed Road highway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday. The United Arab Emirates attempted to dry out Thursday from the heaviest rain the desert nation has ever recorded, a deluge that flooded out Dubai International Airport and disrupted flights through the world's busiest airfield for international travel. (AP)

Flight operations at the Dubai airport, the world's second-busiest, are gradually returning to normal, two days after unprecedented torrential rains and thunderstorms deluged the United Arab Emirates' biggest city, snapping off power lines and disrupting air and vehicular traffic.

The shutdown of the Dubai airport and consequent flight cancellations since 16 April due to the inclement weather affected travel plans of leisure and business travellers from India, which is one of the largest markets for international air traffic to the Gulf city.

As operations slowly resume, ticket prices are beginning to climb, and steeply so for the next couple of days, before rates stabilize from next week, data from travel portals show.

“Due to inundation which happened at Dubai Airport, a lot of airlines have cancelled their flights and they have offered full refunds to the travellers. Some airlines have also offered to book for later dates. However, because of this, air tickets have become costlier by 15%," Rajiv Mehra, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators, told Mint.

“We feel that this is a temporary phenomenon, and things should be back to normal in a week's time," he added.

The temporary setback for the Dubai-bound travellers has caused a spike in air traffic to Abu Dhabi, as those who did not want to defer their plans are flying to Abu Dhabi, and then reaching Dubai by road, an industry expert said.

Gaurav Patwari, vice president, air category, Cleartrip, said there has been a 30% increase in seats to Abu Dhabi over the last two days, and air fares have shown a 40% uptick.

Data from travel portals show that one-way Mumbai-Dubai fares for the next 3-4 days are hovering around 50,000-60,000, as against an average fare of 15,000-20,000 earlier. Similarly, fares for direct flights on Delhi-Dubai route have also surged to 50,000-60,000, against an average 20,000-25,000 earlier.

The Dubai airport has a capacity to handle 90 million passengers per annum and provides connectivity to around 260 destinations worldwide with more than 100 airlines. The airport, which is a major global aviation hub, handled 86.9 million passengers in 2023 and expects to witness 88.8 million footfalls this year.

Latest data for October-December released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed that 3.02 million passengers travelled between India and Dubai during the quarter, translating into a daily traffic of 32,000-33,000 passengers. Currently, there are 23 cities that provide direct flights to Dubai. These are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kannur, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Tiruchirappalli, and Thiruvananthapuram.

Due to the backlog resulting from flight cancellations past two days, airlines have alerted passengers about congestion. UAE’s largest airline Emirates has said that it has lifted restrictions on check-in for departures from Dubai, but has asked customers to arrive at the airport only after confirming the flight status as the airprot remains congested.

“There may still be delays to arriving and departing flights. While some customers have been able to return home or reach their destination, we are aware that many are still waiting to get on flights," Emirates said in a statement.

Emirates is also the largest international airline in overseas air traffic to and from India with a share of 9.8%. It flies more than 15,000 passengers per day on an average to and from India and its sister airline flydubai carries 1,400 passengers a day to and from India to Dubai.

flydubai has also resumed its operations, an official said. On Thursday, Indian carriers such as IndiGo also decided to resume some flights to Dubai, after around 25 cancellations since 16 April until the morning hours of 18 April. Full-service carriers Vistara and Air India have also resumed normal operations, but have warned passengers about slight delays in departures and arrivals.

“The situation remains fluid. There are still parts of the city which are flooded but work is being done rapidly to clear the water out. For airlines, stranded passengers will become priority, so fresh bookings may not be a priority and some delays from Dubai on account of aircraft examination and other factors may be expected for 1-2 days," a senior executive with an airline said.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the flight disruption at the Dubai airport is likely to have impacted travel plans of nearly 65,000 passengers in the India-Dubai sector across business and leisure segments, at the peak time for travel due to summer holidays. Dubai also provides a popular one-stop connectivity for long-haul flights.

As per the DGCA data for October-December, Mumbai was the largest market for India-Dubai traffic at 630,240 passengers, or around 6,800 passengers per day, followed by Delhi at over 6,000 passengers per day, and Kochi at more than 2,600 passengers per day.

“Dubai has a very efficient system in place and I am sure this situation arising out of natural calamity will be managed well," Ajay Prakash, board member, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality, said.

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Published: 18 Apr 2024, 06:15 PM IST
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