Post by Jon Pastuszek
October 3, 2012
The Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers are all set to become the first team in CBA history to fly a private jet this season.
The Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers are taking their mascot name literally, starting this season.
It’s old news in the Chinese world (this story was released about three weeks ago), but the Flying Tigers and their uber-rich owner, Sun Guangxin, are going forward in their longtime rumored plans to buy a private team jet for the 2012-13 season. If the news indeed holds true, the Flying Tigers will become the first team in Chinese Basketball Association history to use a chartered jet.
Rumors of a private jet have been floating in Urumqi since last season, when Sun promised the luxurious mode of transportation if the team could capture their first ever CBA championship. A disappointing season only saw the Flying Tigers reach the semi-finals, but this season it appears as if Sun is going to allow the team to fly the plane anyway.
“Xinjiang is very far away from the other teams,” said club general manager, He Changjiang in an interview with Titan Sports Weekly last month. “During a season, players use up a lot of their bodies. So next season, we’ll probably elect to use a private jet, possibly in times when a game is over and we need it.”
Follow up reports have clarified that although the Flying Tigers will be using the plane this season, the vehicle is the property of Guanghui Industry Investment Group, the company owned by Sun, and not of the Flying Tigers.
At first, the decision to buy and use a private jet may sound a little ridiculous. But in actuality, the move to fly private could be a big edge over other teams this year. Every team in the league flies commercial and with the exception of a few superstars and coaches who have clauses in their contracts, players and staff — regardless of height — ride coach.
For the Flying Tigers, that can prove to be quite uncomfortable. Whereas all of the other teams in the league are on the east side of China, Xinjiang’s home city of Urumqi is located in northwest China — thousands of miles away from other CBA cities. A trip to play an away game would be a couple of hours for every other team, but for Xinjiang flights can be anyway from four to eight hours depending on where they’re flying to. What’s more, with limited options out of Urumqi in terms of direct flights, the team is forced to stop off in other airports to connect flights sometimes, making travel days long and tiresome.
Obviously a private jet, which can fly directly to any airport on its own schedule, will change all that. We’ll see if the Flying Tigers actually use the plane this year and whether or not it has an effect on their goal to win a title.