Airline companies are set to make a roaring business this summer out of holidaymakers by charging up to SR60 for every extra kilogram of luggage, according to reports.
The situation has forced many travelers to send their cargo by land or sea because it only costs between SR5 and SR10.
Workers at cargo firms using sea and land transport said there is likely to be fierce competition between cargo operators because of the extra demand.
They said airline passengers who have reservations and already bought their tickets have no choice but to ship their extra luggage through cargo offices, where the cost of a kilogram does not exceed SR10.
Shibab Ali, who works at a cargo office in Dammam, said the high fees of airline companies have forced many passengers to use cargo offices.
Ali said cargo firms are charging more than previous years, but are still cheaper than the airlines. He said costs have risen because of increased wages being paid to workers loading and unloading ships and boats. The speed of delivery also plays a role in cost, he said.
Many passengers said they had chosen other ways to ship their cargo home because it would cost more than their tickets to go through the airlines. They say airlines are offering competitive prices to a number of Arab and international destinations but are making their money on luggage charges.
Abdulhakim Ahmad, a Sudanese worker, said he bought a ticket to Sudan through an economy airline for SR1,300, with an allowance of 20 kilograms. “I was surprised when the check-in employee told me I had to pay SR1,650 for my extra weight,” he said
“I tried to have the amount reduced but he refused saying it was the regulations. It was then that I called my friends to come to the airport and pick up the extra luggage and ship them through a cargo office,” he said.
Khalil Al-Nashmi, assistant director general for a travel agency in Dammam, said fees imposed by airline companies on extra weight vary between first and economy class.
Passengers would be charged 1 percent of the value of their tickets for each extra kilogram. If the ticket costs SR4,000, each extra kilogram would cost SR40. However, some economy airlines do not abide by these measures, for instance the holder of a SR1,200 ticket has to pay SR35 for each extra kilogram. The price of an extra kilogram is set between SR35 and SR60, said Al-Nashmi.
Al-Nashmi said the value of the ticket determined the price of the extra weight.
“Some airline companies have raised their fees to force passengers not to carry a lot of luggage, which is a threat to the safety of passengers in the air. But some companies use the summer season to achieve higher financial returns,” he said.
Some passengers prefer to ship their extra luggage through cargo offices two weeks before they leave. The price of a kilogram is SR5, as long as the weight exceeds 100 kilograms. If it is less then they have to pay SR8 for each kilogram