For example, we understand that the average sized rugby player may be quite different to the average sized football player; this must go into consideration when organising a private charter. It wouldn’t be feasible to have a 50 seat aircraft for 50 rugby players and staff members, as the weight would greatly restrict the amount of baggage available on the flight. If a team does not have the budget to facilitate a larger aircraft, then we would look at arranging scheduled flights for some of the non-team members to be able to have capacity for the team’s baggage.
Dietary requirements are important for sportsmen. You would not see a world-class sports player tucking into the standard plane food. Football players tend to have a high carb diet to ensure they have the energy to keep them operating throughout a game; spaghetti bolognaise is a very popular option for sports teams on their trips around Europe.
Players must also be hydrated, so that means no alcohol on board for the players (as you would expect), we ensure there are plenty of bottles of water on board for our sports professionals.
On the Tour de France flight we operated this year from London City Airport to Le Touquet, the flight was only 40 minutes long. Our client asked us for plenty of water and fresh fruit on board to help replenish riders. We wanted to create an environment that the riders could feel relaxed, mentally and physically, as the flight was only 40 minutes it was important they optimised this period of time to recover from the day’s activity.
Like many sports teams and events, the Tour de France needed an aircraft charter instead of a scheduled flight because they needed that high-level of control over their flight. When performance is everything, levels of stress and flight times must be reduced. The flight experience of a sports team on a chartered aircraft is vastly shorter than an every-day airliner; this is because boarding passes are pre-printed, the use of private terminals or direct access to the runway is arranged so that players do not spend over 20 minutes at the airport and are not hassled by press. These athletes are on a strict schedule, if the game in Madrid is on a Wednesday, it is likely the team will be back to the training ground in the UK on the Thursday.