SOURCE: Cheapflights Media

Cheapflights Media

December 21, 2012 10:52 ET

Pre-Christmas Scramble for Flights as Brit Football Fans Drive Huge Surge in Demand -- With Celtic Supporters Leading the Way to Europe

LONDON--(Marketwire - Dec 21, 2012) - Yesterday's Champions League and Europa League draws had football-crazy Brits scrambling for tickets -- with Celtic fans leading the way.

Demand for flights from Glasgow to Turin rose an unprecedented 52,800% on a normal day as fans searched Cheapflights.co.uk for bargain fares -- in the hope of seeing their team overhaul mighty Juventus in Italy.

Within five hours of the draw, thousands of fans had searched the site for airline tickets -- with the increase in demand even beating the 4,500% increase in searches for tickets to Rio when the host city of the next Olympics was mentioned during the London 2012 closing ceremony.

Celtic supporters demonstrated their passion, driving a spike in demand that even outstripped that of Red Devils fans. With the prospect of Fergie taking on his nemesis, Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid's Bernabeu, Manchester United supporters nevertheless helped increase interest in flights from Manchester to Madrid by 1,956% compared to a normal day.

In the other British tie where we still have an interest, jaded Arsenal fans helped record a more modest 400% increase in demand for flights to see their team take on Bayern Munich in Germany. It was Chelsea fans who registered the lowest increase in demand -- with relevant flight searches up just 87% on normal day. This would seem to point to lower interest in the Europa League after last year's exploits in the Champions League -- although it is also partly explained by the year-round popularity of Prague as a destination.

The timing of the Europa League ties could mean a Valentine's Day washout in Liverpool and West London with first legs expected to be played on February 14th. Facing Zenit St Petersburg, Liverpool fans pushed up demand for flights from Liverpool and nearby Manchester by more than 800%. Tottenham's tie against Lyon drove an increase in demand for tickets from London to the French city by more than 650% compared to a normal day. And despite a long journey to the Ukraine in prospect, in the hours after the draw, hundreds of Toon fans had searched for tickets to see Newcastle play FC Metalist Kharkiv; no percentage rise was recordable as the Ukrainian City doesn't regularly attract interest from UK travellers.

Cheapflights.co.uk spokesperson Ben Rosier said: "We know that sport drives huge demand for flights -- but some of these figures are quite simply unprecedented. It seems these ties have really captured fans' imagination. Thursday's draw saw a huge surge in interest with Celtic leading the way as they look to get a result against Juve in Turin -- but it seems that jaded Arsenal and Chelsea fans are still mulling their options.

"There are some mouth-watering games in prospect and with these kinds of spikes in demand we advise fans to buy early to avoid disappointment -- and before airlines put prices up. If this level of interest is anything to go by, the Europa League draw could be bad news for footie widows and widowers in Chelsea and Liverpool -- and it might be worth making alternative arrangements on February 14."

In numbers: percentage increases in searches for flight tickets compared to a normal day:

Champions League

Celtic vs Juventus: 52,800% increase in searches for flights between Glasgow and Turin

Manchester United vs Real Madrid: 1,956% increase in searches for flights between Manchester and Madrid

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich: 415% increase in searches for flights between London and Munich

Europa League

Sparta Prague vs Chelsea: 87% increase in searches for flights between London and Prague

Zenit St Petersburg vs Liverpool: 803% increase in searches for flights between Liverpool (and nearby Manchester) to St Petersburg

Tottenham vs Lyon: 655% increase in searches for flights between London and Lyon

Newcastle vs FC Metalist Kharkiv: N/A [Despite hundreds searching in the hours after the draw, a percentage increase is not possible as the Ukrainian City doesn't regularly attract interest from UK travellers, so there is no reliable basis for comparison].

momondo Group: "Let's Open our World."

momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 13 million visitors a month -- plus 6 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights (http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands.

Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, whilst Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries from 2006. 

The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across 16 core international markets but users all over the world.

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