Gulf-based carriers woo travel agents in South

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Oct 27 | Updated: Oct 28 2008, 06:10am hrs
Although air travel has dropped globally, international carriers are upbeat about business from the southern part of the country. Carriers such as Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways are conducting a fresh round of promotions to woo passengers from south India.

According to unconfirmed data available with various travel agents, nearly five lakh holiday-makers are in the southern region on a vacation and are planning to go back between November and January 2009.

Says Mohammed Yakub, general manager, Akbar Travels, Perinthalmanna, Recently, carriers operating in the Gulf invited renowned travel agents to a grand party during Ramzan.

During the ongoing festival of Diwali, travel agencies are flooded with attractive gifts. The travel agents have also been invited by various airlines for lavish parties with lucky draw prizes, including a free ticket to Dubai.

He further explains that of the 25 lakh south Indians working in the gulf, nearly 30% are currently in India and each airline wants to grab a hefty load factor in the succeeding months. The season is considered peak since Muslim travellers will be heading to the Gulf after Eid celebrations in November and some are planning to go back after Eid-ul-zikr celebrations in January.

However, he adds that early signs of a price war are visible as each of the airlines is keeping a close vigil on each others market strategy in pricing of air tickets.

According to various travel agents in south India, booking for the air travel is on at present. Ranging from free air tickets to any gulf destination to commission on each ticket to an attractive goodie, airlines are trying it all to generate maximum business in times of crisis.

Currently, for the Gulf-based carriers, south India is the strongest route compared to other Indian destinations.

However, Akbar Travels accounts for nearly 80% of the market share for gulf destination bookings and does brisk business of over Rs 3-4 crore in this season, say market experts.

Meanwhile, an executive from a Gulf-based carrier says, The Gulf sector contributes nearly 8% of the revenues to the companys books. He adds that workers who are in India on a holiday have to go back to the Gulf to resume work. Needless to say, the south sector is not hit by the global recession, he adds.