Air fares soar on UAE-Africa routes as Omicron-linked flight bans dent capacity

Air fares soar on UAE-Africa routes as Omicron-linked flight bans dent capacity

Several countries have imposed tight travel restrictions on air services with multiple African nations over the Omicron spread. Dubai: Even as more African destinations are added to the no-fly list, air fares between the UAE to other countries on the Continent are recording sharp escalations.

A one-stop flight from Johannesburg , South Africa’s largest city, to Dubai will cost passengers anywhere between Dh2,000 and Dh6,000. A flight from Addis Ababa, depending on the transit hub, can cost passengers as little as Dh1,800 and on the higher end, around Dh8,000 or more.

Kenya Airways is seen operating some direct flights from Nairobi to Dubai between January 7 and January 10, potentially for passengers falling in the exempted categories such as UAE Nationals or golden visa holders. An Emirates airline flight on the same route is charging more than Dh10,000 on January 11.

“It isn’t just travellers from the handful of countries that are not able to travel, but the inclusion of major hubs like Addis Ababa and Nairobi means travellers from countries that rely on transit at these hubs are also unable to travel,” said Sean Mendis, an aviation consultant. “There has been a huge drop in traffic between Africa and the UAE due to this.”

Amid a spike in Omicron cases, Dubai’s Emirates airline recently announced that flights from these countries would be suspended until further notice – Angola, Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Some African expats who flew back home for the Christmas weekend are now stuck and unable to return after flights were banned due to Omicron cases. Responding to a customer query on Twitter, Emirates said the flights were dependent on government mandate and country restrictions. “If a flight is canceled, we can offer full refund.” Airlines suffer another hit

Airlines themselves are among the worst casualties of the new variant, which has resulted in travel restrictions worldwide. The rapid surge in cases and fears of a ‘fifth wave’ in some countries have already dented travel demand.

“UAE carriers will definitely be affected because the restrictions include transit passengers who wouldn’t be entering the UAE at all,” said Mendis. “This means a traveller from say Tanzania to India who would just transit via Dubai or Abu Dhabi will instead travel via Addis Ababa or Doha instead.

“For African carriers that are affected, this only affects one spoke of their route network.”

Reputation at stake

Mendis noted that blanket travel […]

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