NFL teams spend an incredible amount of money each year. As player contracts increase in size, it becomes even more important to make sure the players have ideal conditions for training, practice, games and travel (along with many other areas). NFL teams generally utilize charter planes to get the to and from games on the road during the NFL season.
The charter business has gotten a bit tougher for NFL teams. Recently, American Airlines notified a handful of teams that they wouldn’t be able to offer them charters in the future. There were rumors other airlines might be taking similar steps. It’s interesting that American didn’t even offer to raise the price for the NFL teams it wasn’t renewing with.
It’s surprised me a bit that an NFL team hadn’t taken the plunge and customized their own airplanes to this point. Some NBA teams, the Dallas Mavericks for example, own planes to transport their players. NBA rosters are a lot smaller than NFL rosters. I’m sure the size of the roster is a barrier to entry for NFL teams to own planes.
However, it appears at least one franchise has taken that plunge. According to this ESPN article, the New England Patriots have purchased two used 767s. Tip of the Hat to Runway Girl for retweeting the Rovell piece.
One will be used to transport the team to away games, while the second will serve as a backup. The fact that they purchased one plane just as a backup speaks both to the potentially low price paid for the airplanes and the concern they have for finding a charter last-minute.
How Much Did They Spend?
The article notes that the market for used 767s is between $5 million and $65 million. Based on my loose knowledge of that market, this is probably accurate. A lot depends on how close the plane was to its next major maintenance overhaul. I’m guessing it’s what sometimes referred to as a “C Check” Given how few hours a team would need to operate a plane for 8-10 away games per season, they could stretch the time out before a major investment in these planes.
More importantly, the Patriots can customize the planes exactly the way they want for player health and recovery. In a game of inches, a recovery advantage in the NFL could be huge.
Interestingly, it sounds like the Patriots may charter the planes out to third parties to defray costs. Given how private the Patriots are about so many things, I’m not entirely sure I buy that. I’d guess anyone chartering the planes will be heavily vetted.
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