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Airfare hike leaves UAE Indians in lurch

Indians in the UAE have expressed strong resentment at the recent 30 per cent hike in airfares on the Gulf-India sector.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 14:00 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Indians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have expressed strong resentment at the recent 30 per cent hike in airfares on the Gulf-India sector.

Many Indians, especially low-income workers, have been forced to cancel their plans of visiting home during the coming summer vacation as a result of the drastic hike in fares.

The airfare hike by the airlines including India's national carriers has been a major disappointment for the non-resident Indians (NRIs), who have been demanding cheaper tickets.

Syraj Thomas, Sales Manager of Buildmac Trading company in Dubai, said: "We are absolutely disappointed at the hike in airfares during the season. Many people whom I know have cancelled their trips to India."

According to him, if Air-India takes a decision to reduce the fares other foreign airlines also would be forced to follow the steps.

"Our leaders visit us and make tall promises only to exploit the NRIs. They do not do anything beyond lip service for us," Thomas said.

There are around a million Indians in the UAE, many of whom work on contracts.

Media reports quoted an Air-India official as saying that they have been advised a fare hike effective from this month until mid-July.

After the hike, a trip to Mumbai from April to June 13 would cost around 1,050 dirhams for a return economy class ticket.

From June 14 to July 7, there would be another 30 per cent hike, which would lead to fares shooting up to around 1,800 dirhams per ticket, exclusive of taxes.

The expatriates from Kerala - who constitute the majority of the Indians in Gulf countries - said the hike would affect them worst. " We are ending up in paying at least 2,200 dirhams in Emirates and 1,700 dirhams in Air India during off-season to Kerala. During the season, it would be 3,500 and 2,800 dirhams respectively," Thomas said.

He said Air-India's decision to stop direct flights to Kochi also has been a reason for high tariff in Emirates.

India's Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has also strongly disapproved of the fare hike.

When contacted, he said he would be taking up the issue with Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

First Published: Apr 07, 2006 14:00 IST