Victor: Helping Football Fly Sustainably

Tom Hill, Director of Commercial Jets at private jet company Victor, explains how football clubs can use air travel in a more sustainable manner.


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The use of private jets by Premier League clubs has come under a lot of scrutiny lately. What is your position on this?

While it would be natural for us to defend Premier League clubs that regularly use private jets, we also believe that clubs could be doing more to set and deliver on sustainability pledges.


Although public opinion on the matter should be acknowledged, few realise just how tight and unforgiving deadlines can be for premier league clubs. Flying privately is often the most suitable option for maintaining a club’s rigorous schedule – this is evidenced critically towards the end of the season when fatigue is high.


Fortunately, there are more sustainable and responsible ways to fly privately such as with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%. Our view at Victor is that we completely understand the clubs’ demanding schedules and the need for privacy for high profile players. However, they also have the financial capacity to make more sustainable choices for their jet charter, in order to lower their carbon footprint.


How can the use of private jet travel for games be used in a more sustainable manner?

Most jet charter brokers offer carbon offsetting programmes as a way of appealing to their more conscious customers. Up until recently, Victor offered 200% carbon offset on all Victor flights, however, we ultimately decided our efforts would be better spent promoting the benefits and uptake of SAF – which we know to be the more credible option.


Due to our industry-leading partnership with Neste (the world’s leading producer of Sustainable Aviation Fuel), Victor customers can now purchase SAF for any booking worldwide. The club’s travel manager can select what proportion of SAF to buy – from 5% up to 100%. It’s a straightforward process and we believe it helps to justify the need to fly privately.


But this comes at a great financial cost, doesn’t it?

SAF is approximately 20% more expensive than regular Jet A fuel – so yes, it does cost more, as many sustainable options tend to – until such time that they can scale up. Currently, we are seeing 1 in 5 Victor customers choosing to voluntarily purchase 30% SAF for their bookings at an average cost of around £1,000. So, we know that demand is there, and that people are willing to pay to fly more sustainably.


We encourage our customers to contribute what they can afford, making a better choice for the environment whilst helping to improve the overall demand for SAF – which in turn will help the market grow and bring down the cost.


How can you work with clubs to ensure they are maximising the effectiveness of their travel arrangements to ensure the lowest possible environmental impact?

Firstly, teams should assess whether it’s necessary to fly on short hops to ‘local’ fixtures. There have been several recent incidents where teams have opted to charter an aircraft for a 15-minute flight.


Clubs should also discuss aircraft options with their broker and select the most fuel-efficient aircraft for the size of the team travelling. Smaller regional aircraft are much more efficient over shorter sectors, compared to larger narrow-body aircraft.


We can also reduce the amount of ‘positioning flights’ required by prioritising the use of aircraft located where the clubs are travelling from.


What other measures can Victor help clubs to take to lower their environmental impact?

SAF is currently the most credible solution for decarbonising aviation that doesn’t get the attention it deserves simply due to its lack of headline appeal. Therefore, education for clubs (and ideally players) about how SAF works is paramount.


As it stands, most football clubs cannot state, hand on heart, that they are doing their very best to be as sustainable as possible. However, if influential entities within football were able to prove that they were credibly reducing their carbon footprint, then a potential domino effect could unfold. The Premier League could, quite feasibly, set a new green standard that will inspire fans and organisations worldwide by committing to adopting SAF.


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