Thursday, December 09, 2021 | Jumada al-ula 4, 1443 H
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Travel picks up, but high fares remain a hurdle
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While many countries, including in the region, have eased travel restrictions for international passengers, high fares can still put a damper on travel plans.

Sources in the Oman-based airlines (both Oman Air and SalamAir) told the Observer that fares would stabilise once frequencies improve as more people continue to travel and countries ease travel instructions.

“The one major concern is the rising fuel prices which continue to rise with growing demand for energy. The airline will have no option but to offset the losses by keeping fares high.”

There have been signs of fares stabilising from the current levels in the coming months.

One way fare to the Indian city of Mumbai on the national airline, Oman Air, costs around RO 111, and the return ticket from Mumbai will cost RO 92. These fares are for the first week of November.

Around the Christmas season, fares for the same sector on Oman Air will be RO 78 (Muscat-Mumbai), while the return ticket fare will be around RO 109 in the first week of January.

It may be noted that the airline will be operating only five flights a week against three daily flights in the pre-Covid days.

On the Muscat-Kochi sector, tickets cost around RO 130 around Christmas, while the return fare will cost around RO 145. It may be noted that the Indian national airline, Air India, does not operate direct flights on the Muscat-Mumbai sector. With stops either in Ahmedabad or Delhi, the Air India fares cost around RO 280 to RO 300.

The one-stop flights to Bangkok, via Dubai or Doha, will cost around RO 280 to RO 290 in December, while the fares to London-Muscat will cost around RO 430 (two-way).

According to IATA, the speedy restoration of international air connectivity will help support the recovery of economic benefits of countries heavily affected by the pandemic. It is particularly vital for regions that are highly dependent on international tourism receipts and trade. The contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP dropped by 54 per cent in Asia, the agency said.

“On the positive side, the solid rebound in domestic markets tells us that people are not afraid to fly. And nearly 90 per cent of those who have flown recently reported that they felt safe,” IATA said.

For a complete rebound of travel, vaccines should be available to all as quickly as possible; vaccinated travellers should not face any barriers. Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine. Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes, and governments should pay for testing so it does not become an economic barrier to travel.

“It is also clear that digital health credentials will be needed as borders reopen. Experience even at today’s low levels of travel tells us that there will be chaos in airports if we rely on paper processes,” IATA said.

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