Life is slowly getting back to normal in Oman post the COVID-19 pandemic and the skies are open for air travel but passengers are facing various issues including the skyrocketing airfares due to demand and limited air carriers operating services to destinations like India.
With the regulations being eased and flights operating in the Gulf region, there has been an increased passenger flow, but the airfare remains a dampener, as it is not affordable to many, especially those living in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This often affects the travel agencies as well, as the passengers question their credibility.
But, what we need to understand is the actual state of affairs before blaming anyone. First of all, Saudi had included India in the ‘red list’, which meant it did not operate any direct flight from India. So, naturally when Oman opened the sky for all countries, Saudi passengers opted to travel via Oman to Saudi, which led to the higher ticket price, as the demand was high. Then the practice was that people would come over to Muscat, stay there in quarantine for 14 nights and fly to Saudi Arabia
Added to this, Oman is under an air bubble agreement with India owing to which limited numbers of seats are permitted, since all countries under this agreement are supposed to share the seats.
Incidentally, only a limited number of carriers, including Air India Express, Air India, Oman Air and Salam Air are operating, which result in passengers being denied the fruits of air bubble pact, thus causing increased airfare.
As of now, the ticket fares from India to Muscat is to the tune of Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 (OMR 210 omr to OMR 300) and from India to Saudi Arabia via Oman is to the tune of Rs 65,000 to 80,000 (OMR 340 to OMR 370) compared to Rs 15,000 (OMR 78 ) to the destination in the UAE from India and nearly Rs 20,000 (OMR 105) to Saudi Arabia from the UAE. If other airlines under the pact also operate, it would naturally bring down the price for sure. As of now, flight service from India is almost back to normal, which would bring down the ticket rate. However, people are in a state of panic to travel at the earliest, and book ticket at exorbitant rate. If they are willing to wait for a few days, the rates would come down, because this price escalation is a temporary phenomenon.
Now that Bahrain is also open and Saudi has opened the skies for air traffic from the UAE, more flights would be operating in that sector in the coming days, thus bringing a reprieve for the passengers at the airfare front.
However, there are certain issues to be addressed here as well. Saudi Arabia permits only those passengers who have been completely vaccinated from that country only to fly direct from red countries including India. But the number of such people are very less and hence there requires more relaxation for travel permission.
Kuwait also has the same issue, and surprisingly, even low cost carriers were also charging over Rs one lakh (OMR 550) from travelers from India to Kuwait because of limited air traffic. However, with the Kuwait authorities approving Indian carriers to fly to that country, the price has now substantially dropped.
So, instead of going for panic buying, passengers should wait for a few more days, because once the air traffic is back to normal, the airfare is also bound to come back to normal. We have waited all these months, so why should we spend our hard-earned money for panic buying? Relax..This too shall pass and things will ease soon. No virus can dampen our spirits!