By Rob Morris
Mideast airlines say one-way ticket sales are not up, despite rumours of expats exodus.
Demand for one-way tickets from the Middle East has seen little change in recent weeks, local airlines have claimed, despite suggestions that thousands are planning to leave the region.
Arabian Business spoke to four major carriers in the region on Tuesday, all of which reported no recent increase in single fare purchases.
"We do not provide a detailed breakdown on our ticket sales, but we can confirm that the number of one-way tickets being booked out of the region is no different than in previous years – accounting for less than 1% of total bookings," a spokesperson for Dubai-based Emirates said.
Etihad Airways said it had not experienced any noticeable increase in demand for one-way tickets out of Abu Dhabi, while Royal Jordanian insisted traffic flows were normal.
Meanwhile, a Gulf Air spokesperson also said there was nothing unusual to report for single-fare outbound traffic from Bahrain.
When called by Arabian Business, no one from Qatar Airways was available to comment.
Rising school fees and job losses in the UAE fuelled speculation that thousands of mainly western expatriates would leave the country this summer. In May, removal companies based in the emirate told Arabian Business they were overwhelmed with bookings for June. They also said the number of people relocating to the UAE had fallen dramatically.
The timing coincided with schools breaking up for the summer – a period when many expatriates hit by redundancies were expected to return home.
“The rise of people leaving the country has been on a tremendous scale,” said Jason Tom James, sales manager of ISS Worldwide Movers relocation department.
“Most of the people have lost their jobs. For the month of June we are already full because that’s when the schools close. This year we have seen tremendously large traffic moving out of the country, we can’t accommodate [the flood of business] even with the strength of our staff numbers,” he added.
While the number of western expatriates leaving the region is unknown, Indian authorities claim the economic downturn has seen up to 150,000 of their countrymen return home.
Vayalar Ravi, minister for overseas Indian affairs, told the country’s lower house this month that delays in construction projects had forced between 50,000 to 150,000 people to go home on unpaid leave. He added that job cuts in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar had taken place.
“Information received from Indian Missions in Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Brunei, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon indicate that there is no report of Indians affected by the recession,” Ravi was quoted by the Financial Express as saying.
The Indian embassy in the UAE had no precise figures of returnees, but indicated that the number was considerably large, according to the IANS newswire.
This is just silly. Everyone knows that one way tickets cost as much, if not more, than return tickets. Secondly, while there may not be much of a difference in traffic (the same people going home for the summer like they do every year) a good number of them probably won't be coming back. Thirdly, banks now have sophisticated systems that flag up unusual transactions (like one way ticket purchases) and will quickly go to work if they think anything is unusual. The place is quiet and getting quieter and anyone driving around, even at what used to be called 'rush hour' can see the difference if they compare traffic to this time last year. Where have the people gone? Have they evaporated? Let's not kid ourselves.
Another little factor is that most airlines won't let you check in if you only have a one-way ticket and are flying to a country not your own. Many expats are going elsewhere in the world, not home, but without a return ticket the airline is duty-bound not to let you board. Arnie S is right that a return is often cheaper than a one-way fare, because of the arcane pricing system used by airlines. Also, exiting Dubai on a one-way ticket sets off alarm bells with immigration, so better just buy a return and frame it next to the cancelled visa a photo of an ACI building you never got to see.
Seems people are getting smarter and buying 2 way tickets and not coming back to avoid any unnecessary circumstances adding to their already tragic situation.
Folks i went to Syria on Fly Dubai flight 1 week back and it was jam packed. We were 9 people all together and when we took the return flight we were stunned to see that more then half of the aircraft was totally empty so we all streched ourselves and slept on separate seats in the plane. I have pics if u dont trust me. just post your email ids and i will show you the pictures. By the was 1 BHK is now 55K in discovery gardens and 2 BHK in greens is 65K. Just few days back Nakheel terminated 400 more people. Wake up Call....
I to went on a trip last month to Beirut, flying with FlyDubai, and the plane was packed on the way there, but half empty on the way back. Though maybe they're all just goiing for a long holiday, so I shouldnt jump to conclusions. However, when my previous employer ceased trading, out of 17 people in my team, only 7 remain in Dubai today, and further 2 the whereabouts are unknown. That means approx 50% have officially left the country to go to Oman, Egypt, England, Morocco, Iran, and India. Now this is not every company I appreciate, but if 50% of all the people 'unoffically' made redundant have left the country, thats a lot of people, and my former employer was alot more than 17 people!
What are you still doing here with +50?!More and more airlines are coming to Dubai from all over the world. I do no thtink that the VP of Delta or United or Virgin Atlantic are dumb to operate to Dubai unless there is a solid tangible business! Yes, 70% of Emirates business is transit but 30% is not + 80% of other airlines business is NOT transit since they do not offer ongoing flights from Dubai. FYI, NO, one way ticket are not less than 20% cheaper than round trip. Keep on saying that people are leaving bcz this shows what black heart looks like!while nobody of you dares leaving this country simply bcz you can not find any job else where! Work on yourleves, improve yourselves and go.... UAE will be much nicer with less people!but the main problem that nobody leavesssssss!I beg you leaveeeeeeeeeeeeee!Leave us alone! IATA is dumb, Omar's comments need to go to the bin, all figures internally and externally are wrong, all executives are liars, you are the wisest! Just leave us alone in this country and go else where. you do not deserve UAE and UAE does not deserve you!!!
I'm guessing everyone is buying return tickets to avoid being flagged by the banks, eager to stop people from running away from debt.
Omar, why the hell you are getting frustrated everytime some one come up with the facts, which are not in your favour, why can't you just shut up and watch the conversations. I think most of the bloggers are long time residents of Dubai, i my self is 20 years in Dubai. But you keep on mis interpreting the things, telling the facts is nothing to do with 'if you don't like leave', attitude of yours is of worry-some person. You are expressing your grief in this manner to all and requesting everyone to 'not tell the facts'. I will give you my own experiences in last few weeks, 1. I went to india, 15 days back for 3 days break, while going the flights were not 100% full (this was unusual during that period of the year). 2. While coming back the flight was only 70% full. 3. my next trip was last week, while going it was full (schools just finished) 4. coming back the flight was only 46% full (72 seats were accupied out of 156, A 320). Adding to that, my flight to sharjah was at 4.55am, the flight was delayed by almost 5 hours, so I decided to go home and have a nap and come back, I was supposed to come to check in counter at 7.45am, but while I was in home at around, 7.30 am I received the call from the check in desk asking me to rush to check-in, i said i am at home it will take at least another 30 to 45 minutes come, he was not happy but he 'ok sir pls come fast'. Omar I am talking about a flight check in, not bus check in, believe me I reached the airport in next 45 minutes and the counter was open and i was the last to check-in. Why? they (the airline can't afford to lose the passenger, no more full flights my dear). About dubai traffic, until last thursday, I use to take atleast an hour to reach my home in sharjah, from monday onwards, believe me it is being reduced to hardly 35 minutes, yes 35 minutes, where are all the people gone Omar, facts hurts you. For your info. I love Dubai and I don't want to leave Dubai in near future, until my retirement but talking of facts should not hurt you are any one who wants to know the facts. You are just wasting your time painting a rosy picture, now and then, but people are not stupid. Nobody is scring anybody here and nobody wants to leave Dubai also, but we want to share the facts and figures so that we all aware of it and be prepared for the eventualities, that's all, my dear. Keep Cool.... factual comments will not bring the economies down neither your rosy pictures will boost either. God bless UAE.,
Yes, yes....it true that nobodys leaving UAE. Roads are packed with traffic, rents are still rising, redundancies are nil; in fact I received a personal email from Hu Jintao early morning today, he's sending half a billion people more to benefit from this raving economy. Oh, whats this - an email from my removal company? They say they are booked solid until end of the year??? Hows that possible? Well, I dont want to leave anyway, so who cares.
During a 2 week period when i was arguing about my rent renewal with my landlord (i eventually won) i started looking around for a new villa to rent. The landlords don't know what rate to ask for. When I said their starting price was high and no thanks, some came back and said OK what will you pay. With rents in free fall there isn't a generally known market rate there is so much slack in the market I think a 3 bed villa with maids room in the best areas of Dubai will slide to AED110K over the next 6 months ie the rate 4 years ago