The UAE-India air traffic sector has claimed back spot in the top 10 country pair list with airlines scheduled to fly around 1.2 million seats in September, making it the eighth busiest international route this month, data released by OAG, a UK-based aviation data firm.
The UAE-India sector, which was the second busiest country pair globally from January to April, till the second COVID-19 wave disrupted the trend, will see a sustained surge in traffic in the coming months as the UAE gets ready for Indian Premier League cricket tournament scheduled to start on September 19, followed by Dubai Expo 2020 from October 1 and ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 schduled from October 17.
With the T20 final scheduled in Dubai on November 14, the India-Pakistan match will be played on October 24 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
With the resumption of flights, after the UAE reopened its borders for fully vaccinated visitors on August 30, and given the fewer frequencies compared to pre-COVID days, air fares in the sector have skyrocketed over the past few weeks, Khaleej times reported.
On Wednesday, the cheapest return ticket on non-stop flights from Mumbai to Dubai for travel this weekend (September 10, return September 13) started at INR 62,000 (AED 3,095), offered by Emirates, and for travel from Delhi it was INR 70,000 (AED 3,494), on Flydubai, as reported by an Indian newspaper.
Pre-pandemic, Mumbai-Dubai return fare began at INR 26,000 (AED 1,298) for a round trip. Then again, the number of seats on offer was high. For instance: In September 2019, airlines flew 32 per cent more seats between India and UAE as compared to September 2021, shows OAG data.
In August, the three busiest international airline routes all originated or ended in the Russian Federation. In particular, the third-largest, between Antalya-Moscow Sheremetyevo has seen a 17 per cent increase in capacity month over month which has moved it up from 5th busiest last month. Routes between the Russian Federation and Turkey remain popular, particularly for leisure travellers during the summer season.
Some key Middle Eastern trunk routes have also seen capacity increases this month, with routes between Cairo-Dubai and Cairo-Riyadh making it into the Top 10 this month, up from 12th and 16th place respectively last month.
August also saw the return of New York JFK-London to the Top 10 Busiest International routes, in 10th place. The route is scheduled to operate just 40% of the level of capacity operated in August 2019 and whilst the UK is now accepting US inbound travellers who are fully vaccinated, there are still restrictions on UK travellers entering the US.