May 22 – Once Coronavirus lockdown ends and international borders re-open for sports teams, football will be faced with a whole new issue. Just because borders are open, doesn’t mean that you will be able to get past them.
With the air travel industry starting to look more like a shutdown than a lockdown, traditional means of chartered air travel for teams will become more difficult.
“In the past clubs travelling in Europe in more than 80% of cases piggyback. on spare capacity from the scheduled airlines. For the airlines flying sports teams ad hoc is an inconvenience and slotted in around their other commitments. With more than 50% of aircraft grounded and a far reduced network post-pandemic, airlines will struggle to fit in flights for team travel cost effectively or at short notice,” said Graham Waters, CEO of Sportsliner.
For clubs needing to get teams to and from key fixtures efficiently and quickly the costs are going to be significantly higher as club travel managers battle to find carriers to accommodate them.
Waters has come up with a concept that not just gets teams to matches with the flexibility and at a price point better than can be bought in the commercial airline marketplace, but also delivers an added value and innovative content solution.
“When we developed the ‘Sportsliner model’ we were determined to provide clubs, leagues and federations with a high profile subsidised service while also developing a first-of-a-kind flexible content platform that could increase income streams from both a TV broadcasting and Partnerships perspective,” said Waters.
Sportsliner will configure with a commitment from the ECA AND UEFA a fleet of brand new Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft (98 seats) dedicated to sports teams, federations, leagues and governing bodies.
Currently 85% of teams charter aircraft from the airlines and as a result generally travel in Economy. Sportsliner’s’ solution offers flexible seating with a 3-class interior that it believes will accommodate most team requirements.
“Sportsliner’s service to the sports industry will not involve flying the general public in between team use, therefore providing a cleaner and safer transport solution for European teams competing in national and international competitions,” said Waters.
“We believe that demand from sports teams, federations and associations for a dedicated service in brand new, clean, fuel efficient aircraft is likely to be higher than ever before.”
Waters points to an improved carbon footprint that can be achieved: “When we did the analysis of the 2018-19 UEFA CL/EL and NL tournaments we were able to conclude an overall reduction in carbon footprint of over 40%, quite an environmental benefit. Clearly a reduction would follow for leagues and clubs on a national level.”
Sports teams will inevitably be placing much higher demands on the aircraft they use to be deep cleaned post occupation by the travelling public, which will add a further layer of cost and time for scheduled airlines. They will also be interested in the air quality they breath on the flights.
Modern aircraft have ‘High Efficiency Particle Air’ filters that treat re-circulated air quality in crew and aircraft cabins. The aircraft’s HEPA filters remove atmospheric dust, viruses and bacteria from re-circulated air providing a good level of protection from bacteria and flu viruses such as H1N1, SARS as well as COVID-19 air particles. Sportsliner’s fleet will incorporate all the latest technology in this regard.
Inside the aircraft Sportsliner will have configured the world’s first ‘behind the scenes’ on-board TV multi-media studio. Equipped with the ability to broadcast live or pre-record content from 11km (36,000ft) high, the studio gives clubs the opportunity to both streamline their own post-match media requirements as well as open new content streams. International pre-match manager interviews normally conducted at home stadiums with invited press could now be conducted from the safe environment onboard with the press joining via video-link.
The new normal will see a change in how teams and players view their international commitments. Sportsliner intends to be part of creating that new travel norm.
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