Shortage of private jets affects club training

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England’s elite soccer clubs who want to travel to matches by private jet have to do something unusual: sit in line, according to Bloomberg.

Rising demand for charter air travel in Britain means many Premier League clubs are seeing their plans to get to and from away games disrupted, a problem some managers have already blamed for disappointing performances on the pitch.

After Chelsea FC lost 3-0 at Leeds United FC earlier this month, the London club’s manager Thomas Tuchel said his preparations for the match had been affected by changes to travel plans. Chelsea were unable to find a plane big enough to take all their players and coaches to the match, so Tuchel and members of his staff had to take a bus.

Leeds United, based in Yorkshire, northern England, had their own difficulties ahead of a 2-2 draw against Southampton FC on the south coast this month, according to a person familiar with the matter. Leeds had to charter three smaller planes for the roughly 230-mile (370-kilometer) journey and made similar arrangements for its upcoming match against Brighton & Hove Albion FC on Saturday, the source said.

Newcastle United FC, based in the north-east of England, had to change their usual air travel arrangements for the 0-0 draw with Brighton, some 340 miles away, said another source, who asked to not be identified, discussing confidential information.

“One of the problems for football clubs is that they all want to charter private jets, mostly large ones, which may be less available for a team and support staff at the same time on Saturday and Sunday,” said Sasha Ryazantsev, former board member and finance director at Everton FC, an EPL club in the North West of England.

Representatives for Chelsea, Leeds and Newcastle declined to comment.

Demand for large private jets has increased as many companies that chose this mode of travel during the Covid-19 pandemic have now become comfortable with it. Frustrations over ongoing disruptions in the commercial jet industry have led others to pay private jet operators more to avoid the hassle.

Supply was further reduced by the collapse of UK-based charter airline Jota Aviation, which operated the 95-seat Avro, earlier this year.

Private jet departures from airports have risen dramatically from pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the European Business Aviation Association, preventing football clubs from booking travel at short notice.