Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Patriots buy two Boeing 767s, become first NFL team with own planes

The New England Patriots released these images via Twitter of a Boeing 767 painted in the team's colors.
(Photo: New England Patriots)

The New England Patriots have purchased two Boeing 767s to handle the team’s travel. That would make the franchise the first in the National Football League to buy its own jets, according to ESPN, which broke the news.

The defending Super Bowl champs confirmed the purchase via Twitter with a mock-up image of the planes. “New airkrafts,” the team tweeted, apparently misspelling the word on purpose in reference to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“Sources tell ESPN that the reigning Super Bowl champions bought two 767 Boeing wide-body jets in the offseason and retrofitted them with all first-class seats, some of which recline completely. On the outside of at least one of the planes is the team logo and five Lombardi trophies on the tail.”

Patriots spokesman Stacey James told ESPN the team would not reveal details about the purchase. But the sports network’s sources say the two 767s are extended range variants that will be based in Providence, the closest major airport to the team’s stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Fox 25 Boston said the franchise told it that it would rent the planes when not in use for the team.

The Patriots’ move comes amid changes in the market for pro sports charters. American Airlines, for example, recently ended its contracts to fly six separate NFL teams.

The carrier is still flying three teams that play in its hub cities – the Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles – but the company told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this year that it was ending other partnerships due to a lack of resources.

“After careful evaluation, we are reducing the number of charter operations for 2017 to ensure we have the right aircraft available for our passenger operation,” American spokeswoman LaKesha Brown added to Forbes in April.

Given the broader shake-up in the sports charter market, ESPN writes the Patriots’ decision to buy its own 767s comes as “the rising cost of chartering flights for NFL teams makes the decision to buy a plane somewhat easier. Sources with knowledge of the deals teams have done with charter companies say the 10 round-trip flights per season can cost up to $4 million.”

It was not clear who sold the Patriots the 767s – or for how much. Boeing’s website shows a list price of about $200 million for a brand new 767-300ER, but jets can come for much less than that when bought on the secondary market.

Aside from the Patriots, there have been several NFL-themed planes flying for commercial airlines during the past decade, though none were owned by a team. US Airways, and later American, have flown planes painted in the color schemes of the Eagles, Cardinals and Patriots, among others. JetBlue once painted a jet in the colors of the New York Jets.

And in 2014, Boeing rolled out a mean-looking Boeing 747 painted in the colors of the Seattle Seahawks. That jet was used for testing and was owned by Boeing, which said it gave it the unique livery to play up its ties to the Seattle area during a playoff run by the Seahawks.


(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

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