Cardiff Airport has announced this February saw record passenger numbers compared to last year thanks to the Six Nations bringing more visitors to the capital.
The Wales-France match in late February saw 7,000 French fans pass through the airport in a single weekend.
The rise, set to be over 20 percent, is welcome news to bosses of the state-run airport, which last year was purchased by the Welsh Government from Abertis for £52 million.
Last March they set out plans to reverse the unprecedented decline in passenger numbers the airport had seen over the last five years.
Passenger numbers have indeed stabilised, with 2013 seeing an 8 per cent rise over 2012, with the new bus service connecting Cardiff’s city centre to the airport proving particularly successful.
But the Welsh Government’s involvement in the airport has attracted criticism from opponents who say it lacks viability.
In December the airport received a £10 million government loan, repayable over 12 years, which would allow it to begin work on some much-need improvements.
In the meantime airport chiefs are basking in the news, as well as the revenue generated from off-duty sales to returning French rugby fans and the media coverage attracted by the free holiday market on held on February 16.
This showcased to 800 visitors some of the far-flung destinations available to would be holidaymakers.
Chief Executive of Cardiff Airport, Jon Horne, said: “February has been an exciting month for the Airport; not only did we have our first holiday market we had the rugby airlift.
“Our focus was on giving the French fans a first class Welsh welcome and a really smooth passage through the airport. Judging by their good cheer, even on the way home, I think we achieved that goal.