International airlines operating in the Kingdom have raised their fares to make maximum profit during the summer season when thousands of Saudis and expatriates travel abroad to spend their vacation.
Khalil Al-Nashmi, assistant director of a travel agency in Dammam, said some international airlines raised airfares by 30 percent to destinations like Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur, which are favorite holiday destinations for Saudis.
Turkish Airlines raised the price of its tickets from Dammam to Istanbul from SR 1,200 to SR 3,500. SriLankan raised the price to Kuala Lumpur from SR 1,800 to SR 3,800.
He said the hikes are applicable to other Arab and Gulf airlines; the prices for these companies from Dammam to Istanbul rose from SR 2,000 to SR 4,500. He attributed the hike to an increase in airline waiting charges at the airport as well as rise in fuel prices.
Mohammed Abdul Rahman of Transworld Travel in Jeddah, said airlines had adopted an automatic system to increase prices at peak times of holiday seasons. “When there is high demand, the prices automatically go up. We can see this fare change by just watching their websites,” he said, adding that all airlines are fully booked during this summer season that coincides with Ramadan, Umrah season, school vacation and exodus of illegals.
“There is no government control on fares. It is mainly determined by the demand and supply factor,” Abdul Rahman told Arab News. Some airlines, he said, offer about 20 different fares on a single sector. “Most flights operating to and from Jeddah are full because of Umrah rush,” he pointed out.
According to Al-Nashmi, the parking fees on planes at Saudi airports were higher than the fees in neighboring airports like Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE. But GACA spokesman said he was not aware of the fee hike.
“A number of neighboring airports consider parking fees to be suitable and competitive to international airline companies,” Al-Nashmi said and urged Saudi authorities to review its decision to increase parking charges.
Mohammad Ayyash, a travel agent in Dammam, said Saudi families paid more than SR 40,000 to travel outside the Gulf. “If they go to the same destination from Bahrain they only pay SR 29,000, and SR 24,000 if they go from Kuwait,” he said. Saudis are expected to spend SR 40 billion on foreign tourism this year.