With the number of international flights from Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchi, and Coimbatore airports are on the decline, the rates for the destinations of Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait are on a high. The fare from Chennai to Dubai is anywhere between Rs 40,000 to 1,00,000. Normally, the rates ranged from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000. The airports in Middle Eastern countries like the UAE and Qatar are popular destinations for travellers to European countries and the US. Interestingly, most of the flights are operated by international players and Air India and IndiGo are the only Indian carriers operating for these destinations.
There are seven direct flights from Chennai to Dubai daily and of these, only two are operated by the Indian carriers. With the Middle Eastern airports being a transit point to other long-haul destinations like the US, Canada, and the UK, only Air India has the aircraft to undertake long-distance travel. Sources in Air India told IANS that the carrier does not have many large aircraft to undertake long hauls.
Sunil Chandran, a former officer with a reputed airline, while speaking to IANS said, “The airline companies are behaving like a closed group and have dislodged the open sky policy of the government. The government had thought that the open sky policy will increase competition but instead, airline companies joined together and jacked up prices.”
He said that the lack of aircraft carriers to undertake long-distance flights from the Middle East is one of the main reasons for this.
Abdulla Rafeeq of Sky tours and travels, while speaking to IANS said, “The lack of aircraft has created an increase in prices of tickets to Middle Eastern countries and from there to other destinations. Unfortunately, if more aircraft are not pressed into service, the prices will go up.”