Airlines Ride on World Cup Fever

By Kim Rahn

With the 2006 World Cup matches in Germany basking in the global spotlight, airlines' World Cup promotional activities are in full swing.

Emirates Airlines, an official FIFA World Cup sponsor, has exclusive rights to broadcast World Cup matches on flights.

After recording all matches through a device at Dubai International Airport, the carrier airs the matches aboard its flights the day after the game is played.

The Dubai-based airline has also established broadcasting stations at 16 airports in 10 countries so airport customers can watch World Cup matches live.

For onboard passengers who miss big matches such as those of the Korean national team, semifinals or the final, South Korea's two national flag carriers - Korean Air and Asiana Airlines - are providing prompt match reports.

The airlines' main control centers have turned into football broadcasting stations. The centers report match results to cabin crew, just as they report operational and weather information.

The cabin crew announces the progress of games, including goals scored, half time and final results.

Korean Air reported the opening match between Germany and Costa Rica on June 10 (Korean time) on its KE906 flight from Frankfurt to Seoul. It is providing the service for all Korean matches and matches of departing or destination countries.

The carrier also offered the service during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and the World Baseball Classic in March.

Asiana has decorated the background of its counters at Kimpo International Airport and Incheon International Airport with World Cup images, and its workers wear red shirts. Also, it is giving 20 red shirts to passengers on every flight heading for Europe until the end of this month.

In March, the carrier also painted the national team players' images on its B-747 aircraft.

Passengers on flights equipped with in-flight Internet systems can also watch matches on their laptops. Korean Air said the number of in-flight Internet users has increased 30 percent since the World Cup started.

Budget carrier Hansung Airlines is refunding fares to passengers if the Korean team wins a match. The day after a Korean victory, the Chongju-based airline refunds the fares of the first flights departing Chongju and Cheju.

On June 14, the day after Korea beat Togo, 64 passengers on the first flight departing Chongju were refunded some 3.2 million won after arriving in Cheju. And 59 passengers on flights departing Cheju received about two million won.

If the Korean team beats Switzerland tomorrow morning local time, passengers on Hansung's Sunday morning flights will be given refunds.

The carrier plans to expand the refund to all flights the day after a Korean victory if the national team advances into the second round, quarter finals, semifinals, and so on.

Lufthansa, a German airline, while not an official World Cup partner, is enjoying the privilege of carrying footballers and fans to the host country.

Chef Saverio Pugliese, who currently prepares meals for the German national team, is in charge of in-flight meals for the carrier. The airline also provides first and business class passengers with soccer ball-shaped chocolates.

The German airline has painted the noses of some of its aircraft with a soccer ball pattern.

Singapore Airlines is serving "World Cup cocktails" in its Silver Kris Lounge at Incheon airport until early July. Each cocktail features a unique flavor from each competing country in the World Cup.

The cocktails, concocted by a professional bartender from the Walker Hill Hotel, range from a German cocktail containing beer, to a U.S. cocktail featuring bourbon whisky. The Korean cocktail with a bittersweet taste from a mixture including soju, Korea's national distilled drink, is colored red, reminiscent of the Red Devils.

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