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Gulf airlines slash fares to lure Ramadan tourists

Airlines respond to soaring oil prices and fall in tourist traffic.
NEWS, Aviation

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Airlines operating across the Gulf have slashed their fares during the Holy month of Ramadan as they look to boost capacity in a slow tourist period.

Emirates Airline, Eithad Airways and British Airways have all cut airfares on selected routes as high oil prices and regional political unrest combine to squeeze margins.

“Having a fare sale during Ramadan allows carriers to increase their traffic... and will enable airlines to remain profitable through the incremental traffic generated from those sales,” airline analyst, Ernest Arvai, president and CEO of US-based The Arvai Group, told Arabian Business.

“This year, with unrest in many regions of the Arab world tending to depress traffic and high oil prices increasing costs, it is critical for airlines to fill additional seats, which can best be accomplished through fare sales.”

The International Air Transport Association on Wednesday said airline earnings for the three months through June suffered the first year-to-year decline in two years as oil prices rose.

Operating profit for sixteen carriers declined by almost one-third while net income fell by almost two-thirds.

Dubai-based Emirates Airline on Monday launched Ramadan offers with discounts on flights across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Far East. Prices start from just over AED1,000.

British Airways has also launched its Ramadan sale for all bookings made to London Heathrow and beyond before 31 August 2011, for travel from 1 August until 31 December 2011.

“With Ramadan coinciding with the extreme temperatures of the summer months in the Middle East… travel packages offer people the option of spending the Holy Month in cooler climates,” Paolo DeRenzis, regional commercial manager at British Airways, said in a statement.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways’ Ramadan sale ends August 7, the airline said on its website.

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