SAA holds back increase; other airlines lift fares by over 20pc


Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) will hold its fares to current levels until July 30 despite expected increases in fares by other airlines operating in the Kingdom.

Fares are expected to go up by 20 per cent to 40 per cent with the higher rise expected to be on the subcontinent sector, especially to India where the fares are likely to jump by up to 40 per cent, a Saudi report said.

Air-India has already released its new fare list effective from July 1. Gulf Air, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, PIA, PAL, Air Lanka and several other airlines with services in the sector are expected to release their revised fare list soon.

However, SAA has announced that its fares to Indian destinations would remain unchanged.

Airline sources say the fare increase was a readjustment to take advantage of the peak season following sharp falls sparked by massive undercutting in fares by rivals during the lean period.

The fares to Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) during the lean period are as low as SR1,250 ($331) against the IATA price of over SR2,700.

The industry is nervous about Saudi Arabian Airlines' decision to continue with the discounted fare to Indian destinations.

Airlines which do not operate directly to India are in a quandary because cheaper fares are the main attraction for passengers opting for their circuitous routes, sources said.

As per the Air India fare list, the selling price suggested for a roundtrip economy class ticket to Mumbai and Delhi from Dammam has increased to SR1,850 from the current price of SR1,300, an increase of more than 42 per cent.

Fares to Kochi (Cochin) and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) will go up from SR1,900 to SR2,700.

Though the fare war is not as stiff as in the Asian sector, competition in the European and the American sectors is from the Eastern European airlines. Asian airlines also offer discounted packages to the Americas and Europe.