ACS sees significant increase in Women’s Football Aircraft Charter Bookings


Alex Sadat-Shafai

Air Charter Service has seen bookings for women’s football teams more than triple over the last two years, when comparing to previous years’ figures. The global aircraft charter company has suggested that this profound increase is not solely due to implications of Covid-19, but is fuelled by a significant increase in popularity and subsequent funding of women’s football.

With the latest postponed women’s international qualifying matches for Euro 2022 taking place over the past couple of months, ACS has been flying multiple teams around Europe. Football teams are opting for chartered flights more than ever before and ACS has organised flights for significantly more women’s teams in 2020 than in previous years.

Funding of Women’s Football

With FIFA having promised $1bn (£800m) worth of investment into women’s football between 2019 and 2022, it is clearly an exciting time for the female sport. The success achieved by the US and English teams has helped with this rise in funding, as reflected in the subsequent increase in aircraft chartering. In the past two months alone, ACS has facilitated seven women’s football team aircraft charter bookings for a number of European teams and has more booked for the next round of Euro qualifying matches. This marks a sharp increase from the demand of just a couple of bookings per year for women’s football teams prior to 2019. On top of this upwards trend in booking numbers, in 2019 ACS organised charters for every team in the Women’s World Cup – 38 in total.

In the US, the women’s national team is followed as much as, if not more than, the men’s team. Meanwhile in England, the WSL (Women’s Super League) has grown dramatically in popularity, largely attributed to England reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup last year. As a result, the 2019-2020 season was a turning point for the women’s game in England. Even more money has been dedicated to women’s football, with big name players from around the world transferring to the WSL to compete in the league.

Alex Sadat-Shafai, Global Football Sales Director at ACS, comments, “It’s great to be part of the growth story of the women’s game – it is a testament to the amount of money that has entered the field in the past two years. As the world’s largest aircraft charter broker, with operations across the globe from a network of 27 offices, we have been able to assist teams around the world in sourcing aircraft for charter to tournaments, as well as training.”

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, every National Football Association that ACS works with is chartering around three times more than previously. Due to the current lack of scheduled flights offered by airlines, there are fewer transport options between most destinations for games and so teams are opting for private travel. In the post-COVID-19 landscape, Air Charter Service can facilitate tailored flights to match specific sporting schedules that are not currently serviced by commercial flights. Chartering privately on their own schedule allows teams to fulfil more fixtures and media engagements in more locations, with players who are better rested for games and thereby maintain higher levels of performance.

Additionally, teams are seeking improved hygiene, personal space and flexibility – private air travel provides a secure and hygienic means to get from A to B.

Alex Sadat-Shafai continues, “By chartering flights for both men and women’s football through ACS, all players can avoid busy airports and travel safely within their team ‘bubble’. National Associations, as well as the Governments they represent, cannot be seen to be paying for more hygienic, ‘COVID-safe’ charters for the men’s teams whilst sending women’s teams on scheduled commercial flights.”