Football was at the forefront of a discussion in the House of Lords this week over so called ‘grey’ charter flights. The concept played a key role in the tragic and highly publicised death of Emiliano Sala last year and has brought this to the heart of debate in Westminster.
The untimely death of Sala and Pilot David Ibbotson has already led to much public and legal interest, with the player’s contract being the subject of a dispute between his former clubs Nantes and Cardiff City.
The Lords heard yesterday of a desire for greater regulation on this type of flight. In the Sala case they heard that the pilot had “dropped out of training”, was not licensed to carry paying passengers and was not allowed to fly at night. ‘Grey’ charter flights, referred to on Monday as ‘unlicensed air taxis’, are often used by celebrities to avoid publicity. However, this is a growing problem in the aviation industry. The Sala case has shown, when an accident has occurred, little can be done to protect the rights and safety of the pilot and passengers, leading to Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goddard of Stockport calling for a “clampdown” this week.
With a number of high profile deaths linked to aviation in recent years, there seems to be a greater onus on the government to mitigate risk, and football here has clearly provided a focal point from which this action can be taken. As it was expressed by the transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton, these concerns are shared by the department and with the publication of an interim report on the matter, we will almost certainly see further interest in this area and the Sala case.