DUBAI, Apr 3: — A sharp 30 per cent hike in airfares on the Gulf-India sector, during the forthcoming peak holiday season, has left passengers in a lurch as most of them, especially low-income expatriate workers and labourers, are now struggling to pay up the difference — which they can ill afford.
Passengers who seek to travel on this sector allege that the airlines are exploiting them by charging a high fare. They have urged that the Indian government to take necessary steps to curb this practice.
"The recent decision of airlines to increase their fares cannot be justified. They know there is a big demand for seats on this sector because of the upcoming school vacation. Every year they resort to this practice, but it should be stopped," said Nirmal Kumar an Indian expatriate.
He pointed out that Non-Resident Indians have been urging for a drop in airfares for a long time. But, instead of reducing airfares, some carriers keep hiking it every year.
Thomas, another Indian expatriate, said "I was planning to go home this year with my family, but I cannot afford such high fares. It is unfair for the large Indian expatriate community in the Gulf. NRIs are just 'milch cows' for them." He pointed out that the low income expatriates are the main victims of this unfair practice.
When Khaleej Times contacted airline sources, the latter disclosed that due to the expected increase in demand for passenger seats during the peak travel season from Dubai to India, airlines have advised a fare hike — effective from this month until mid-July.
Raj Kumar, Air India's District Sales Manager, said airfare for instance for travel to Bombay during April and May until June 13, there will be a 30 per cent increase to Dh 1,050 for a return economy class ticket. Between June 14 and July 7, there will be another 30 per cent will be added to that fare cost, touching Dh 1,800 per ticket, exclusive of taxes.
"The increase is influenced by the law of supply and demand," Kumar tried to justify.
Alok Singh, UAE Country Manager of Indian Airlines, told Khaleej Times that their increase in airfares varies from sector to sector.
"Although there is indeed an increase in fares as dictated by the high travel season, we have devised other schemes like discounted advance purchase fares, which allows customers to get good priced tickets," Singh commented.
In a recent press statement, Indian Airlines mentioned that they have extended their summer season offer to India until April 10. The scheme will cover tickets for sectors covering Cochin, Calicut, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai in response to the strong public demand for travel to these select sectors.