The wonderful Rugby World Cup final in London on Saturday, watched by millions of fans in Australia and New Zealand very early yesterday morning, capped a great tournament that has worked for fans, for airlines and for tourism.
The All Blacks successfully defended the cup, beating the Qantas Wallabies 34-17 in an exciting match notable for technical brilliance, fast pace and good sportsmanship all round.
It also worked for tourism.
Air New Zealand and Qantas traded banter in a light-hearted exchange on Twitter before the match, with the New Zealand carrier suggesting Qantas repaint its fleet black if the All Blacks won the final.
Qantas came back with a design Air New Zealand might have to adopt if the Wallabies trounced the Kiwi side. As it happens, that design will not be needed, but the two designs can be seen above.
New Zealand provincial newspaper the Manawatu Standard reported yesterday that a more practical solution had been found and Qantas crew were expected to don the All Black jerseys for a day after the Wallabies’ loss.
On a more practical basis, airlines received a boost in passenger numbers last month as rugby fans from Australia and New Zealand headed to Britain to support their teams.
While Emirates said it was “almost impossible” to weed out figures for passengers travelling exclusively for the Rugby World Cup, Virgin Australia told the UAE-based publication The National that demand over the month of October had been strong for passengers travelling to Abu Dhabi “while the 2015 Rugby World Cup has been underway in the United Kingdom”.
Qantas also experienced stronger-than-usual demand for flights between Australia and Britain in October and was quite specific about it. “For the grand final week, bookings from points of sale in Australia have seen spikes around the same time as victories in the World Cup,” a spokeswoman told The National.
Chief economist at Ascend Flightglobal Consultancy in Britain, Peter Morris, said the Rugby World Cup was a positive factor for airlines at a generally “slow” time of the year.
Written by Peter Needham