The Patriots responded to the increasing difficulty of air travel by buying their own planes. But their motivations go beyond convenience or expense.
Via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft said during a pregame interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub that he thought the pair of 767s — which they jokingly refer to as “airkraft” — would help the team stay healthy as well.
“Football is a different animal than the other sports in terms of what needs to start to happen on an airplane as you’re leaving a game,” Kraft said. “I do think it will allow us better recovery with the players, the way we’ve set it up and allow the coaches to be more productive, too.”
The planes have been retrofitted with all first-class seats, and Kraft said having their own wide-bodied planes gives them the kind of flexibility which was becoming harder to find commercially.
And as is fitting with a team so profoundly built on attention to detail, Kraft said buying the second plane was as a matter of being prepared.
“Every hour of the season, from Week 1 to whenever your season is done, is scripted out. Bill [Belichick] can tell you what’s going on, and hours matters. If you have a technical difficulty with your plane and you’re flying with any of the commercial carriers, they’ll have another plane there pretty quick. If you’re flying your own plane and you have one, you have to wait until it’s fixed,” he said. “We’ll fly with technicians and engineers, but having a backup plane in case that happens, and ready to scramble at any moment, was critical. For us, it was the way to do it in a fashion that would ensure the football team would not only have the right type of plane to fly on, but the right type of service so we could maximize time.”
The Patriots were the first team to buy their own planes, and have thus pioneered the era of “Next plane up.”