Football fans hoping to attend the 2014 World Cup will have to get busy saving now, amid reports of sharp fare hikes next year in Brazil.
Last June's Confederations Cup dress rehearsal saw marked increases in airfares and hotel prices, but increases are expected to be even worse next year, when supporters of 32 teams descend upon Brazil, pushing demand through the roof.
"A Sao Paulo-Rio flight already costs almost the same as going to New York," wrote an incredulous Folha de Sao Paulo daily newspaper on Monday. The paper indicated that June 12 return flights from Rio to Sao Paulo, which will stage the opening match that day, will cost 2,393 reais (S$1,362).
"That's more expensive than going to Curacao in the Caribbean (1,900 reais) or Buenos Aires (900 reais) and a little less than the price of a return to New York or Paris," said Folha. It is also some 10 times the normal fare of around 250 reais. Folha added it had uncovered some flights costing 2,923 reais - a 1,311 per cent hike on a normal return.
Airlines responded by saying many flights had already been booked for the period, costing less, adding that last-minute bookings would naturally be higher owing to demand and availability.
TAM Airlines indicated the far higher than usual demand - given that some 600,000 tourists will be criss-crossing Brazil for a month - means added logistical costs for carriers.
Competitor Gol said many of its tickets for the period had already been sold and that high demand for the few remaining tickets would likely lead to higher prices.
In Brazil, a 2001 law allows carriers to set prices without government regulation. Even so, Folha quoted the country's civil aviation authority as urging the companies to pursue a policy of "regular prices" even during the World Cup.