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The countdown has already begun and the Pro Sky teams are getting ready for the start of the competition. The 25th World Men’s Handball Championship kicks off on 11 January, with France taking on Brazil in the opening match at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. Pro Sky was selected by the organising committee to plan the air travel for the national teams during the championship.
Who will follow the “experts” in the French team, who won in the last championship in Qatar? The world’s 24 best teams are coming together in France from 11 to 29 January 2017. A total of 84 matches will be organised at 8 different sites (Brest, Nantes, Metz, Rouen Albertville, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, Montpellier and Paris). For several months, Pedja Todorovic, Head of Aircraft Charters at Pro Sky France, has been putting in place flights to cater to the needs of these top-level athletes and their technical staff.
Plan de vol des 1/8ème de finale (Photo : GCMap)
Pedja, Pro Sky will be the official air charter provider during the next international handball championship in France. Can you explain to us what the specific features of this project are when moving the national teams around?
We received a precise requirements specification to ensure the observance of certain points that are important from the point of view of the organisers. First of all, in our view, it was vital to be clear about the intrinsic quality of the airline to choose as well as the type of aircraft that we offer for air charters. While respecting the allocated budget as far as possible, we selected three airlines offering us operational and financial certainties. In order to do this, our database and our PRO SKY Quality Score allowed us to have an advantage over our competitors! The chosen airlines have also been selected based on their experience with regard to the destinations to be served. For example, we are fully aware that the weather conditions can be difficult when reaching Chambéry Airport – especially in January! What’s more, the approach during the landing is more complicated as it is in the middle of the mountains. This is why we suggested an airline to our client that serves this destination regularly.
In the interest of fairness, I presume that every team will receive the same quality of service?
Exactly! This was one of the other points emphasised by the organising committee, which represented a further criteria for us to take into account when selecting airlines. Finding enough aircraft to organise eleven charter flights within two days is already challenging. On top of that, we had to find the same type of aircraft for everyone. The flight conditions offered have to be the same so as not to give one team an advantage to the detriment of another. Pro Sky is thus committed to offering a similar service to all of the teams, whether this be services offered at the airport, the flight schedules, the level of comfort in the cabin, or the personalisation of the meal on board.
With the perspective you have in organising these major gatherings, what is important when it comes to transporting players during a competition?
Air travel should be integrated into the schedule of preparation and recuperation for the players. Many criteria need to be taken into consideration. Each coach and technical team has their own philosophy and the club or federations have to adapt to their expectations.
When it comes to international sports competitions like the World Men’s Handball Championship, the time spent while travelling is crucial. The format of the championship, with matches every three or four days in often different places, requires extremely rigorous planning of the transportation. At Pro Sky, we are used to providing air travel solutions during international sports events, notably in football with the recent World Cup in Brazil and the UEFA EURO in France, but also for rugby, basketball and even the Olympic Games.
We are looking forward with very special excitement to the start of the competition and implementing this project with professional handball players!
Thank you for this interview, Pedja!