After a thrilling Super League final, the Catalans Dragons are back on home turf. The professional rugby league club from Perpignan, France, went up against St Helens at Old Trafford. And even though the final didn’t go their way, the Dragons are now one of the game’s most prominent teams.
We’re also proud to call them a partner – the Dragons have been working with Victor since 2017. And although the past two years haven’t been easy for any sports team, flying privately has allowed the Dragons to travel to and from matches with confidence.
We caught up with Alex Chan, the team’s General Manager, to find out how chartering with Victor has helped the players to maintain their exceptional performances.
Flexibility and peace of mind
The Catalans Dragons, like many other elite sports teams, choose to fly privately for numerous reasons. For one thing, the logistical benefits are huge. While commercial airline passengers encounter long queues and unexpected delays, private passengers skip all of that. Plus, scheduling flexibility means teams can fly on short notice, if necessary, and adapt flight times to suit them.
By reducing overall travel time, flying privately gives the team more time for training and strategising. “We save time thanks to the private terminal check-ins,” says Chan. He also explains that “the luxury of scheduling meals, flight departures and planning to suit our requirements” makes chartering flights all the more valuable.
Tom Hill, Director of Commercial Jets at Victor, understands these requirements perfectly. Along with his team, Hill looks after our on-demand Commercial Jets division. It allows groups, such as professional sports teams, to enjoy exclusive use of aircraft, a personal account manager for 24/7 support, and access to more airports.
Flying in the time of COVID-19
For the Catalans Dragons, the benefits of flying privately were highlighted by the pandemic. As Chan explains, “The global effect of COVID-19 forced numerous changes in our sport. We have had to restructure operations and procedures to ensure that our sport, club, and employment continues to function. And a big part of the requirements put in place by both the UK government and French governments was the exemption given to professional athletes and essential staff travelling to and from the UK and France – [travelling] is only permitted via private charter flights on a “Fly in, Fly out” match day basis.”
So, for many professional sports teams, flying privately transitioned from being a luxury to an essential means of transport. And in this time of immeasurable stress, Victor worked with the Catalans Dragons to ensure each journey ran as smoothly as possible. When the team needed to cancel a flight to the UK at the last minute, due to COVID-related issues, we minimised the impact. Thanks to our strong relationship with the airline, we were able to get the team out of an 80% cancellation fee and they were only required to pay the “sunk” costs incurred.
“[The need] to provide multiple risk assessments and SOPs for every aspect of our work has increased,” says Chan. “We have also needed an enormous amount of coordination and trust between our club and charter broker to ensure that the regulations are adhered to.”
Nurturing high performance in the air
As professional athletes, maintaining high performance while travelling is key for the Dragons. As Chan explains, “There is a scientific approach to nutrition, recovery and numerous other factors to achieving high performance week in week out. A big shout out to our performance staff, who carefully plan and prepare to ensure we can maximise all available resources to benefit the players. They organise pre-packed meals, travel apparel specifically designed for flights, hydration and supplements before, during, and after flights.”
The team’s requirements can also vary according to the match and season in question. That’s why Victor works with the Dragons to secure the most suitable aircraft solution each time. Over the years, we’ve provided them with a variety of aircraft types, ranging from regional to narrow-bodied airliners.
Another level of privacy and security
For many sports teams, privacy is another major reason to charter jets. Avoiding crowds and fans allows athletes to stay in a focused mindset when travelling to matches. So, when the Dragons flew to Liverpool ahead of the Super League final, we stepped in. Thanks to our excellent relationships with some of the UK’s leading private terminals, we were able to arrange FBO access on arrival and departure. This further reduced the team’s travel time and ensured a smooth airport transition.
Why the Catalans Dragons choose Victor
Today, Victor’s partnership with the Catalans Dragons continues to thrive. And the reasons behind their decision to fly with us haven’t changed. “After tendering the charter market, we chose Victor for their professionalism, competitive pricing, constant communication and clarity,” says Chan. “Also, Victor’s previous flight history proved their reliability and capability to provide all the necessary functions we require.”
After tendering the charter market, we chose Victor for their professionalism, competitive pricing, constant communication and clarity.
During a hectic competition season like the Super League, efficiency, flexibility, and communication are key elements of a charter service. And it’s these essential aspects that stand out to Chan: “We have continuous follow-up calls to ensure the service is sufficient [and to see if we require] any adjustments. We had to adjust and change circumstances when planning for a match in the UK. And Victor has always worked to help facilitate us and ensure that measures are taken to make it happen. It’s a major reason why we appreciate the partnership.”
So, what is the team up to now? “We’re currently taking some time off to recharge and spend quality time with our families and friends,” reveals Alex Chan, the team’s General Manager. “Then we’re looking to come back together towards the end of November to prepare for Super League season 2022.”
Interested in learning more about our on-demand group charter service? Get in touch with our team for expert advice and assistance.
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