FIFA World Cup boosting Russian summer flight bookings

FIFA is boosting Russia's intternational profile The number of foreign travelers to Russia is expected to peak as the tournament opens (ForwardKeys)

Bookings for air travel to Russia during the soccer FIFA World Cup 2018 this summer are currently more than double the same period last year.

The latest figures are from ForwardKeys aggregating service, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions per day.

Russia is hosting the 32-team competition for the first time in history. The championship will be held from June 14 to July 15. ForwardKeys says the biggest peak in arrivals will come as the tournament opens, and that figures will remain high for the rest of June at 118.3% ahead of last year.

Travelers will be coming from across the world, and bookings from those countries which have qualified for the competition have peaked. Mexico hhas been showing the greatest increase in planned travel to Russia, by a factor of 19. It is followed by Brazil (15 times), Argentina (10), and Poland (seven).

ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager comments: “Once again the power of sport is going to give a massive boost to tourism. The Russians will obviously be looking forward to the international fans’ spending power.”

As far as Russian airlines’ ability to grab soccer fans is concerned, Russian airline experts have modest expectations. Earlier this month Boris Shokurov, deputy executive director of the Russian Association of Air Transport Operators, told Russian Aviation Insider that the FIFA event’s overall effect was to be relatively modest: “The Russian Transport Ministry does not expect the number of arriving fans to exceed 4 million. Some of these passengers will be carried by Russian airlines; this share is likely to be between 1 and 1.5 million. Others will travel with foreign airlines, or will choose rail and other ground transportation modes. So this contribution to the [Russian airline] industry’s operations is important but not critical.”

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