MUMBAI: Airlines are scheduled to fly close to 1.2 million seats between India and the UAE this month, helping the country retain its rank as the second largest market in the world, according to UK-based aviation data firm OAG.
The top rank is held by Mexico-US. Pre-pandemic, that position was held by UK-Spain. The pair has now dropped out of the top 20 as both countries continue to be mostly closed to international travel, said the OAG report.
The UAE-India country pair climbed to the No. 2 position in January and has stayed in that slot since then. The number of seats on offer, though, has been on a steady rise—up from 9 lakh in January to 1 million in February and 1.17 million in March, which is only 22% less than the number of seats flown by airlines between India and the UAE in March last year.
In December last year, India-UAE was No. 8 with 8.9 lakh seats, up a rank it held the month before, with 7 lakh seats.
The UAE is not just popular with Indians, but is also a neighbourhood favourite. The UAE-Pakistan pair is ranked fifth this month. But only about 5 lakh seats are to be flown by airlines on this route in March.
The rankings aren’t an indicator of demand. If anything, they allude to the extent of government restrictions certain routes are under owing to the pandemic.
Airfares on the routes like Delhi-Dubai and Mumbai-Dubai remain comparatively low at Rs 14,000 for a 24-hour advance purchase non-stop return journey from Mumbai to Dubai for travel on Saturday and return on Monday.
From Delhi, it was Rs 16,000, while for the next weekend, on March 20 it was Rs 15,000.
Passengers arriving into Dubai have to carry a negative Rt-PCR report and as per the latest directive from the government, passengers arriving or transiting from flights originating from Middle East (also UK, Europe, Brazil and South Africa) with a final destination in Maharashtra will have to observe a compulsory institutional quarantine of 7 days at a state-designated facility irrespective of a negative report pre-boarding.