Airline and tourism companies expect an increase in the prices of air tickets by 30-50% in April. The prices are likely to increase by 70% during the first few days of Ramadan and increase by 100% during the last 10 days of it.
Companies said that the past few days have already witnessed an increase in ticket prices at private airlines and EgyptAir, as the price of a ticket to perform the Umrah rite in Mecca, Saudi Arabia reached EGP 7,250.
Hassan Aziz, former head of the International Air Transport Association, said that the upcoming period will witness crises in the logistical process of transporting pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back due to a lack of sufficient time.
The Ministry of Tourism limited the number of pilgrims during the current season to 500,000. Twenty percent of them will travel in Ramadan, amid efforts to reduce pressure on foreign currencies.
It has also decided to impose a SAR 2,000 fee on pilgrims who already performed Umrah during the past three years. The amount increases to SAR 3,000 in cases of repeating Umrah within the same year.
Aziz believes that the current Umrah season has seen crises before it even started, as it coincides with the return of Egyptian expatriates from Saudi Arabia, and as EgyptAir’s flights will be busy transporting Egyptian fans to Russia for World Cup matches.
He added that when the transportation of pilgrims is further postponed, this will push airlines to increase the prices of tickets, as the period before Ramadan will include plans by the Ministry of Tourism to transport 400,000 travellers to Saudi Arabia, which is a large number for a period of less than two months.
An official at EgyptAir said that the largest percentage of pilgrims will be transported via EgyptAir and private Saudi aviation companies, while the percentage of those carried by private Egyptian aviation companies will not exceed 10% of the total number of travellers during this season.
The official, who spoke on condition anonymity, said that EgyptAir greater luggage weights, and also better prices, though the real competition will be on the quality of the service.
Many private Egyptian airlines have exited the process of transporting Umrah pilgrims with the decreasing number of travellers over the past two years, leaving only two companies doing so. One of them allows luggage weights of 30-50 kg.
The official added that there are only two private airlines working in the field of Hajj and Umrah activity. One is owned by Saudi businessperson Nasser Al Tayyar, and the other by Egyptian businessperson Rami Lakah.
“Perhaps there will be a last-minute intervention by another private airline, such as AlMasria Universal Airlines. These airlines target travellers with high financial abilities. However, the percentage of Egyptian and Saudi private aviation remains generally low,” Aziz added.
He stressed that the revenues of companies will be impacted by the decline in the number of travellers. However, they will be able to compensate these declines through raising prices, whether those of Umrah or the tickets.
Yousry Abdulwahab, chairperson of the Private Aviation Association, said that the prices of tickets will be determined based on the prices of fuel and operating services at airports.
Abdulwahab added that the share of private aviation will be low, compared to the share of EgyptAir and Saudi airlines working in Egypt.
Wael Mahrous, assistant executive director of the Saudi Diyar Al Madinah, for Umrah services and hotel management, said that the late confirmation of Umrah pilgrims until March will increase prices, which will be good for airlines and hotels in Saudi Arabia.
Nader Emad, general manager of Elaf Group in Egypt, expected the prices of airline tickets to reach EGP 16,000, and jump to EGP 20,000 in the last days of Ramadan, which will limit the ability of those wishing to perform the Umrah rite during the upcoming season.