ZURICH/DUBAI: FIFA World Cup sponsor Emirates, far from encouraging its home fans to attend the finals in Brazil next summer, is reportedly deterring them with an extortionate fares increase.
Arabian Business is claiming that both the Dubai-based carrier and Qatar Airways have ramped up the prices of flights to Brazil from their Gulf bases during the World Cup next year by up to 70pc.
A report on arabianbusiness.com says that return economy flights on Emirates between Dubai and Sao Paulo on June 10, two days before the 2014 World Cup begins, are being sold $2,906 – a surge of nearly 70pc on an identical trip made in March.
The airline has also raised its business class fares for travel during the event by 10pc.
Qatar Airways has also increased its economy class ticket prices by 40pc and its business class prices by 14pc, based on travel from Dubai to Sao Paulo in June.
Clearly these fares are for travellers from the Gulf states to Brazil but, assuming they are mirrored by price hikes around the world, that is bad news for both fans and for the Brazilian tourist industry, which has said it expects 600,000 extra visitors for the first finals the country has hosted since 1950.
Currently return flights on other airlines from, for example, London, are being quoted on the sales websites at between £1,250 and £7,500 (Emirates does not fly direct from London to South America under its own flag).
Emirates has been a main World Cup sponsor since 2007 and stood by the world federation during the scandal-hit upheaval of 2010-11.
On its website, the airline says: “Emirates is looking forward to bringing fans closer to the game they love. South America is an important and growing market for Emirates…. Emirates looks forward to sharing the carnival atmosphere with all football fans at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Arabian Business reported an Emirates spokesperson as saying: “The FIFA World Cup coincides with the peak summer travel season, and many of our available seats to Brazil are already booked. Like any company operating in a dynamic market environment, Emirates offers a variety of fares that fluctuate throughout the year depending on the market forces. Our fares are considered extremely competitive by travel agents and our customers.”