Prices triple after huge interest in match but airlines hope to put on more flights

Flights to Samoa around the date of next year's All Blacks match are almost three times as expensive as those the week before - putting them out of reach of the average Kiwi fan, a sports tour organiser says.

Air New Zealand, a major sponsor of the All Blacks, says there has been "huge interest" in the historic match against Samoa in Apia on July 8.

Flights are booked out for the two days before the game, as well as the day after.

There are still Apia-bound flights leaving Auckland that will get you there in time, with a few days free to lounge in the sun - but it'll cost you. For a return fare leaving on Sunday, July 5 and returning a week later on July 12, basic economy flights with no check-in luggage are going for $1774. The same flights a week earlier will cost $585, and a fortnight later $610.

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Virgin Australia is selling airfares for the same July 5-12 period for $1480.72. A week earlier, the return fares cost just $569.46, and a fortnight later $610.72.

Air NZ said interest in the game meant airfares immediately before and after had sold "extremely quickly" despite adding 30 per cent more seats over game week, and they were looking at adding extra flights using large capacity aircraft.

Virgin Australia also said there was the possibility of more flights.

Brent Cameron, who organises several sporting tours for clients of his electrical business every year, had wanted to take 30 customers to the game at Apia Park.

He said a tour company had offered a four-day package from Christchurch, with just two full days in Samoa, for a "ridiculous" $3389 per person.

"We told them it was just too expensive," Mr Cameron said.

"I don't understand how they can justify it. They've priced it out of the reach of the average Kiwi fan."

Mr Cameron reckons booking a trip independently and travelling via Fiji could save each fan $1000.

All Blacks Tours had sold out its July 6-12 packages, starting at $3995, "pretty much" within 24 hours, according to general manager David Caldwell. He said 150 fans would travel on the same plane as the star players, watch team training sessions, and "be part of a historic event on a beautiful Pacific island".

In Samoa, hotels and accommodation facilities are selling out rapidly.

A range of establishments said they had not bumped up room prices - which ranged from 130 tala ($67) a night at accommodation facilities to 500 tala ($258) plus, at top class hotels.

The popular Orator Hotel, about 15 minutes from Apia Park, said nearly all its 26 rooms had been snapped up.

Rooms at the Moanalisa Hotel in Vaitele were also filling up fast.

Staff at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel confirmed the All Blacks and entourage had booked out the 95-room hotel for four days. Manu Samoa have booked the Hotel Millenia.

Fancy flights
Air NZ
$1774 for return economy fare (no check-in luggage), leaving Sunday, July 5 and returning July 12
$585 for return flights a week earlier, or $610 a fortnight later
Virgin Australia
$1480.72 for return economy fare for the same period
$569.46 for return flights a week earlier, or $610.72 a fortnight later

Supporting the boys in blue

He may be a proud Kiwi, but former Manu Samoa player Mark Birtwistle is geared up to support only one team at next year's big match in Apia - the boys in blue.

He is part of a group of 30 friends and family who have booked flights and accommodation for the All Blacks versus Manu Samoa match at Apia Park next July.

"We've gone well ahead of everybody else - I hope - and booked as much as possible.
I've got friends and family staying with relatives and some accommodation booked over there in different resorts. Hopefully I've got my bases covered."

He estimated that each person had paid around $4000.

"All my friends have never been to Samoa and this is the perfect opportunity. It's not really about the cost, but the experience - that's the way we're looking at it."
- Vaimoana Tapaleao