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Flying private to the World Cup: An inside look

A big portion of the Avinode team is based in Sweden, but even our American offices are getting riled up about the World Cup. Our members, too, are excited — and not just for the delightful occasion of cheering on their national teams, but also because it’s clearly a month of excellent business. Elite individuals from around the world are descending on Russia week after week, and many of them want to fly private.

So we’ve been wondering…

Is everyone in Russia at the moment?

Well, not quite, but there’s certainly been an increase in international and non-Russia and CIS flight requests submitted through Avinode, bound for the host cities of the World Cup. If we compare requests to fly in from June 7 (leading up to the tournament’s opening on June 14) through the day of the final on July 15, we see a 111% growth in demand for travel to Moscow Vnukovo International Airport. And cities rarely visited by business jets are enjoying their time in the global spotlight too – demand for travel to Koltsovo (Ekaterinburg) International Airport is up 1,102%.

Heavy jets are the most requested aircraft type, up 187% on 2017. And let’s not forget fans aren’t the only people flying to the World Cup. The superstar soccer teams themselves like to travel in comfort and privacy, which might explain the 1,702% increase in demand for VIP airliners to the host cities.

Why should fans fly there in a business jet?

Though it can be wildly fun to watch the games from a packed bar, there’s still no substitute for being there in person, at the heart of the action in the stadium. Over 3m people are going to the World Cup, which means commercial airline passengers will be spending many long hours in congested airport terminals. Who wouldn’t want to skip those lines (and hungover hooligans) and simply stroll across a private tarmac to a business jet?

How is Russia coping with all this traffic?

Russia is no stranger to hosting major sporting events, or to accommodating private aviation. Sochi, for example, which is one of the World Cup cities and a summer resort destination, successfully hosted the Winter Olympics in 2014. Over 30% of all requested flights through Avinode February 6-7, 2014 (for the opening ceremony) were destined for Sochi, so Russia knows how to cope with big traffic surges.

There’s been plenty of time to prepare too. The tournament was awarded to Russia in December 2010. With limited parking and facilities, airports are running rapid ‘drop-and-go’ operations rather than encouraging crews to spend time refueling or restocking catering supplies.

What if I don’t like soccer?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Russia’s not the only place to go this summer. One look at the flight requests already submitted through Avinode this year shows plenty of appetite for peak season flights to European destinations. Compared to the same period in 2017, demand is rising dramatically to fly to established hot spots such as Nice (up 50%) and London Luton (up 57%). France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Greece (in that order) are the five most popular countries to visit, just as they were in 2017.

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