Travellers facing air fares shock reconsider summer plans

A STEEP increase in air fares could force families in Bahrain to either rethink or change their summer travel plans this year, it has emerged.

A seasonal surge in demand for a fewer number of seats on planes, rising oil prices, pilot shortages, the worldwide grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft and the suspension of an Indian airline are some of the factors contributing to the rise in airline ticket prices this year.

Summer is the busiest season for most airlines, with extra planes being put into service to cope with the demand.

However, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March and a Lion Air crash last year, airlines the world over withdrew their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes from service indefinitely.

In April, in India Jet Airways was suspended following a multi-dinar funding shortfall and budget airline IndiGo had to cancel some of its flights due to a shortage of pilots.

All this has resulted in fewer planes, fewer seats and higher air fares.

While there is no fixed price increase, with different airlines flying on a number of routes and providing various services, a round-trip air ticket to popular destinations such as Turkey, London or Thailand can cost anything between BD300 and BD400.

“Generally, prices go up during the summer,” said Bahrain Express Travel and Tours branch manager Abdul Zaheer.

“That’s just part of the seasonal increase – when the demand goes up so do the prices.”

He added that last year nearly 2,000 passengers from the GCC flew to India every day and this year with the closure of some of the private airlines demand has increased for limited seats.

In March, reports in India said air fares in key sectors would rise by eight to 10 per cent, following a 10pc increase in aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

While many people are taking this in their stride and have made preparations by booking in advance, others have felt that the increase in air fares is unfair and have had to amend their travel plans.

“I was more than shocked because never before had I seen such a price rise,” said a resident who was planning to visit India this summer.

“Personally, I think the increase is too much and don’t see any reason why the airlines should be charging so much, other than to make more money which I think is ruthless at this time of the year.”

Families, which are already struggling with increased water and electricity bills and value-added tax, are feeling the pinch.

“There are families for whom the increase in air fares is almost three times higher than the regular price. This is absolutely unacceptable especially in the given financial situation in the country as we know people are suffering without pay or jobs; people are literally struggling.

“I think there should be a regulator to monitor the unacceptable price rises during the peak vacation season; there can be an increase but it should be reasonable.

“I was ready to take a flight with a seven-hour transit while usually, it takes four hours from Bahrain to Calicut or Trivandrum.


“I was ready to fly through Muscat, which will take eight hours, or via Sri Lanka, which is almost 10 hours, but all these flights were over BD350 – nothing under BD300,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the first four months of the year, 33,410 Bahrainis have visited Turkey, recording a 30pc increase compared with the same period last year, according to the Turkish Cultural and Tourism Office in Dubai.

Just in April, 6,884 Bahrainis travelled to Turkey, representing an 11.39pc increase when compared to April last year.

“We are delighted to see Turkey climb to one of the most popular tourist destinations for Bahrainis as well as other Gulf nationals,” said Turkish culture and information attaché to the UAE Salih Ozer.



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