Travellers await bargain flights

Budget-conscious consumers are turning away from air travel unless they can find bargain prices

Airlines in the Middle East have seen a 50 percent drop in the number of advanced bookings as passengers wait for more bargains inline with the travel slowdown.

The year on year fall-off in advanced bookings comes at the same time as most airlines in the region have increased the frequency of their summer flight schedules, with some even adding new destinations.

Many airlines have also cut the price of economy travel in a bid to boost the volume of travellers, according to a senior airline executive who did not want to be named in an interview with UAE daily Emirates Business.

Pricing policy at most full service airlines now offered passengers cheaper fares on weekdays, compared with the weekends, meaning even in economy the fare varied depending on demand, he explained.

If demand increased the airline would release more seats in that sub class, within the economy class, which passengers were now cottoning on to, the airline executive said.

As the cost of flying falls travel agents in the region are becoming more hopeful that last minute bookings for summer vacations will pick up, although business travel is still expected to decline.

Waseem Rahmany, senior manager, sales and marketing, Al Rais Travel, said: "Because of the general economic condition people have become cautious and are delaying the buying of tickets. The new trend, unlike the previous years, is that people are buying tickets closer to the date of travel."

First class and business travel were the two areas that were suffering most, Rahmany reported, adding that if the prices on these seats were further reduced business may pick up.

"People are still travelling, though less in first-class and business class," he added.

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