This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Air Charter Service (ACS) is seeing a growing trend in women’s soccer team charter bookings, more than tripling over the past two years, according to the UK-based broker. A confluence of events and actions—the growing popularity of and additional investment in the sport, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic—are driving the increases.
“It is a testament to the amount of money that has entered the field in the past two years,” said ACS global football sales director Alex Sadat-Shafai. That money includes a promised $1 billion investment in the sport by FIFA and successes by the U.S. women’s national team and England’s Women’s Super League. In the past two months, ACS has booked charters for seven women’s soccer team trips and more are on the way as teams prepare for Euro 2022 qualifying matches. Before 2019, bookings for these teams amounted to a couple per year, ACS said.
Covid-19 is also driving higher bookings among the teams, as much as three times more than before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. “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," Sadat-Shafai explained.