By Shane McGinley
Jump in number of pilgrims heading to holy sites sees Emirates, Etihad lay on extra flights
UAE carriers have boosted their Ramadan schedules to Saudi Arabia to cater for the annual increase in demand during the Muslim holy month, while travel agents have seen a healthy rise in holiday bookings over the period.
Dubai’s Emirates Airline will add 73 additional flights to its Saudi schedule over the Ramadan period, with Jeddah - the gateway for Hajj pilgrimages to Makkah - getting an additional 59 flights.
“There is a high demand for travel to the kingdom from across our network,” said Ahmed Khoory, Emirates' senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran.
A spokesperson from Etihad Airways confirmed the Abu Dhabi carrier is planning an extra nine flights to Jeddah over Ramadan on top of its normal schedule.
Basel Abu Alrub, managing partner of the Utravel agency in Dubai said “airline carriers, as well as low cost carriers, have added at least one extra flight a week to/from Saudi Arabia during the month of Ramadan”.
Alrub said those looking to spend the month overseas had also helped boost bookings.
“In general, non-Muslims and non-practicing Muslims are scheduling their holidays during the month of Ramadan and we have witnessed this as a trend this year because of the convenient dates of which Ramadan falls on: just before schools re-opens and business goes back to normal.
“This year travellers have been more open to experience new leisure destinations which are away from your traditional London and Paris, [such as] Croatia,” he added.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.