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WNBA and Delta Air Lines to Charter Game Flights for Full Season

Delta Air Lines will charter the majority of WNBA game flights after the basketball league agreed to shuttle its players in private planes for the 2024 season.

The WNBA league-wide charter program will be phased in with the start of the 2024 regular season, which officially kicks off May 14, according to the league. This is the first time a program like this is being implemented.

The decision to operate a fully-private charter program comes as stars like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese started playing professionally this year, garnering mass interest. Previously, charter flights were only allowed in the WNBA for specific circumstances, like if a team had back-to-back games, ESPN reported.

The move comes after video emerged of Indiana Fever players — Clark’s team — boarding a commercial flight to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) for a game. Clark’s explosive popularity has helped put a spotlight on the concept of flying private.

“I’m just super excited for the players who have been in this league for a really long time and have really deserved this for years and years and years,” Clark told the Indianapolis Star. “I’m just excited, I’m thankful, at whatever point that it is, that it happens. It’ll be great for us, it’ll make recovery easier, it’ll make travel easier, it just makes life a lot easier for a lot of people… I’m just very fortunate to come to this league and have this opportunity the first year that I’m here.”

Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said in the statement the airline was excited to “add the WNBA to our prestigious roster of sports charter partners as we participate in this historic advancement in women’s professional sports.”

The timeline for when these flights would start wasn’t immediately clear.

“We have been hard at work to transform the business and build a sustainable economic model to support charter flights for the long term,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “While we still have a lot of work to do to continue to execute our strategic plan, we feel confident that the time is now to institute a full charter program to demonstrate our commitment to leading with a player-first agenda.”

The program is expected to cost about $25 million per year for the next two seasons, ESPN noted.

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