NBA Players Get Roomier Chartered Jets as Delta Air Adds Teams
Michael Sasso, Bloomberg Business, bloomberg.com, July 5, 2015
NBA players already get twice as much legroom as the average airline passenger, and soon they’ll be flying in bigger jets under a new charter deal.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is poised to start using Boeing 757s under a tentative agreement for National Basketball Association charters, with almost 50 percent more cabin space than the planes now on those flights. The accord also calls for ferrying as many as 27 of the 30 NBA teams, four more than last season.
The shifts are detailed in a letter to U.S. regulators from the league, and offer a rare glimpse into how the biggest NBA charter operator caters to its high-profile clients. While last season’s $65 million in NBA flying was a fraction of 1 percent of Delta’s sales, the business helps boost profit and showcases the carrier for an elite audience.
“It’s Delta’s way of keeping up with the proverbial Joneses,” said Greg Raiff, chief executive officer of charter operator Private Jet Services Group, whose clients include National Hockey League teams. “I’m sure the aircraft will have all new Wi-Fi and entertainment systems and in-seat power.”
Delta spokesman Anthony Black declined to comment on the NBA agreement, which will employ 11 of the airline’s Boeing Co. 757-200s after the carrier operated the service with eight Airbus Group SE A319s. The amenities already on the smaller Airbus planes hint at the pampering players receive during their months of travel.
…“The A319 that Delta has been using in the pro sports team airliner segment is the smallest of the VIP airliners in the space,” said Raiff, the charter operator. NBA squads usually fly with about 50 players, staff, reporters and guests….
Under Delta’s new charter accord, the airline would sell the 11 Boeings to an unidentified leasing company, which then would lease them to an NBA-controlled trust. Delta would still operate the jets and maintain them, and would be free to deploy them for other charters in any down time… continued here.