Monday, May 13, 2013
Pegasus Airlines and Local Air Prices
So there is a lot of advertising around about a new airline flying to Doha in June, the Turkish discount airline Pegasus.
As soon as I saw the ads I called the Turkish friend of mine to let him know and he was really excited. Typically to fly from Doha to Istanbul would cost around QAR 2400 or more (~$660+) but Pegasus was advertising rates as low as QAR 1100 ($300). That's big savings, especially for your average Turk.
Even better, Pegasus would be the first discount airline to fly to Doha that has a good European network. They fly to a number of cities in Europe like London, Barcelona, Milan, Zürich, Copenhagen etc. so now people in Doha have a reasonably priced option to get to many European cities.
But why would Pegasus be so much cheaper? Well it is a no-frills airline. I've flown it once in Turkey and it is not fancy like the airlines here. But it also has something to do with the fact that in the Middle East if you live in the main city of an airline they charge you through the roof for a ticket. It's an outrageous practice, these airlines all want transit passengers to use their hubs so the tickets for people transiting through are more reasonably priced than for people who actually live in the city.
Here's an example, today I decided to check out the prices for a trip to London leaving August 16 and returning September 1. It's around Eid time so the prices should be more than usual.
On Pegasus, Doha-Istanbul-London was QAR 1990 ($545)
On Qatar Airways, Doha-London was QAR 6420 ($1,759)
Yep, look at that again. A price difference of $1,200! Yes, I realize Qatar Airways is a quality airline with very nice planes and services -- but that doesn't excuse charging triple the fare.
So I decided to look up what it would be if I was in Bangkok and wanted to fly to London through Qatar Airways, same dates:
Bangkok-Doha-London QAR 4973 ($1,362)
So someone flying from Bangkok to Doha, then changing planes and going on the same flight as someone who was only flying from Doha to London, still would pay almost $400 less for their entire trip!
I think it’s outrageous that the airlines do this, but it's something a lot of people here know -- it's a lot cheaper when transiting. I remember a while back some Qataris were organizing an online boycott because of how annoying this was. I doubt it will work since the vast majority of Qatar Airways' passengers are transit passengers anyway.
Transiting though one of the Middle East hubs does make it cheaper, though not as cheap as Pegasus:
Emirates, Doha-Dubai-London = QAR 3510 ($961)
Etihad, Doha-Abu Dhabi-London = QAR 3990 ($1,093)
So instead of triple, you pay double and, like Pegasus, have to deal with a layover.
Now before you go and say I'm just picking on Qatar Airways the others gouge as well. Let's use that “hub to London” versus the “Bangkok to London” example again:
Emirates, Dubai-London = QAR 5485
Emirates, Bangkok-Dubai-London QAR 6064
Etihad, Abu Dhabi-London QAR 5730
Etihad, Bangkok-Abu Dhabi-London QAR 5386
So Qatar Airways was the most expensive for “Hub to London” but the least expensive of the three going from Bangkok. Etihad, like Qatar Airways, charged more for people leaving from Abu Dhabi to London than someone going from Bangkok to London through Abu Dhabi. Emirates charged the Bangkok flight all of about $150 more. Emirates and Etihad charged local passengers way more for a direct flight than for someone transiting from Doha.
Is there a way to change this? Why can’t these airlines be more reasonable to local passengers?
With any luck Pegasus will drive down some of the prices from Qatar Airways.
I booked using their website but someone left a comment that Regency Travels is an approved agent for Pegasus so if you need an agent try them.