WNBA Commissioner Says Charter Flight Program Still Has A Few Kinks But Is Running Smoothly

NEW YORK: Commissioner Cathy Engelbert anticipates that after the Olympic break, the WNBA’s new charter flight program will be operating well, albeit there are still a few expected glitches.

In a phone conversation on Friday, Engelbert described the object to The Associated Press as “a big Rubik’s Cube.” “Where can we find aircraft and pilots for lengthy flights?” It’s not like the jet takes off and stays in one place for a couple of days. It’s been used in another location. A logistical difficulty exists.

Because of plane availability and pilot staffing, creating a charter schedule for a professional league typically takes months of work. Thanks in large part to an established connection with Delta and the plan that the NBA has in place, the WNBA was able to complete the project in a matter of weeks.

“Our season’s footprint is quite substantial. Engelbert stated, “We wanted to capitalize on the fact that we knew these first few weeks, especially at the beginning of this, were going to be difficult for our teams. “For this reason, we decided to act at that moment. We determined it was time after considering the schedule and difficulties it brought about.

According to Engelbert, the league was able to obtain charters for each team within a week of the season commencing, despite the original plan to distribute the charters gradually as they became available.

The league will employ three different types of aircraft for its charters: VIP, Delta mainline, and regional jets. The league will spend roughly $25 million a year for the flights over the following two years.

Due to the availability of aircraft, regional jets have been used for the majority of flights thus far. The peak travel months are May, June, and July, and other aircraft weren’t available at such short notice.

The 30-seat regional planes are smaller and require a stop for refueling during lengthy journeys. When the NBA began its charter flight program in 1997, it too utilized regional planes, and it was forced to use them for almost ten years.

Another issue that occasionally arises on commercial flights is that many of the aircraft lack WiFi and power outlets. The minimal drawbacks of charter flights are unquestionably not greater than their enormous benefits.

Nneka Ogwumike, president of the WNBA players’ union, stated, “It happened almost overnight.” Although there were some hiccups during the rollout, I still consider it to be a major victory. The term that comes to me is transformational.

Players no longer need to wake up at five in the morning in order to go to the next city for a game by plane. The travel time has been reduced by over 50%. They also avoid having to cope with crowded seats and lengthy security lineups.

Due to connecting flights, the AP’s voyage with New York from Connecticut to Las Vegas last season took 13 hours total to complete.

Forward Breanna Stewart of Liberty stated, “The fact is we can just pull up to the plane, get on the plane, and get ready to go.” “It’s a big deal to be able to finish a game and then fly out to the next city without wasting a whole day, but we haven’t done it yet.”

Now, when they travel to the next city following games, players may recuperate much-needed.
The league was able to schedule 116 of the 120 flights that franchises would need to make in May and June at the times that work best for them. That’s allowed teams to practice at home and then fly on the road.

The number of times a team uses each charter option will be tracked by the league and will eventually balance out.

For example, the first charter flight was taken by the Indiana Fever, and it was on a VIP aircraft. The Indiana Pacers’ playoff run and the availability of their charter to transport the Fever to Connecticut made that possible.

Last season, the WNBA began to cover the cost of charter flights for teams who had back-to-back games. They continued that initiative before to this season and made arrangements for charter planes for each away game. On June 25, some teams, however, might have larger or VIP flights since they are in the Commissioner’s Cup finals or are playing back-to-back games.


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