From the pitch to the skies: the far-reaching impact of major football events on global travel

  • 2024-06-19
  • Vilma Vaitiekunaite, Lithuanian aviation expert

Football's influence transcends the field, impacting economies, communities, and industries globally. Major events like the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship drive substantial economic boosts, increased aviation activity, and profound social impacts.

Football tournaments significantly stimulate local economies. For instance, the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar attracted millions of fans and generated substantial revenue for local businesses. The UEFA European Championship in Germany is expected to have a similar impact, driving economic growth through increased spending on accommodation, food, and local attractions. The economic benefits extend beyond the immediate influx of fans, as host cities often experience lasting tourism and infrastructure improvements.

Major football events lead to spikes in air travel. During the World Cup 2022, Qatar saw an unprecedented number of flights, significantly boosting the aviation sector. For example, Qatar’s main airports handled a peak of 13,782 flights, with Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport playing a pivotal role in managing the influx. Top departure countries included the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, USA, and the UK.

Similarly, Euro 2024 in Germany is projected to see a considerable increase in air travel. According to OAG data, over 70,000 flights with 12.4 million scheduled seats are expected to Germany during the tournament. Key airports like Frankfurt and Munich will be hubs of activity, facilitating the movement of fans and teams.

Local economies thrive during football tournaments. Restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets see increased patronage, contributing to the overall economic boost. Cities like Berlin, hosting the Euro 2024 final, will experience heightened economic activity. The aviation industry also benefits, with significant traffic increases at major airports. For example, Frankfurt and Munich are expected to handle the majority of the travel demand, underscoring the integral role of aviation in supporting these events.

Football brings people together, fostering a sense of community and shared enthusiasm. Events like the World Cup and Euro 2024 offer opportunities for cultural exchange and mutual respect among fans. The social impact is immense, promoting inclusivity and unity. The excitement surrounding these events creates a vibrant atmosphere that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.

Euro 2024 promises to be a landmark event with significant travel and economic implications. The tournament is expected to generate substantial travel activity, particularly from countries with large fan bases. Spain, for instance, is projected to be the busiest country market with 1.6 million seats expected. Sustainable travel will also be a focus, with increased reliance on train travel within Germany. The integration of digital technology for bookings and personalized travel experiences will further enhance the tournament's impact.

Football is more than a sport; it is a powerful economic driver and a unifying force for communities worldwide. The data from the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the predictions for Euro 2024 highlight the significant economic, social, and aviation impacts of these events. As we look forward to Euro 2024, we anticipate not only thrilling matches but also substantial benefits for host cities and beyond.


FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar: 13,782 flights, with top departure countries being the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, USA, and the UK.

Euro 2024 in Germany: Over 70,000 flights with 12.4 million scheduled seats expected. Major airports like Frankfurt and Munich to handle the bulk of the travel demand.

Economic Impact: Significant boosts to local businesses, lasting tourism, and infrastructure improvements.