League leaders changing - parallels between the beautiful game and aviation

8 March, 2018

There are many parallels between the beautiful game and aviation, not least that some global airlines sponsor top teams in many of the major leagues across Europe. As football evolves so does the airline industry so The Blue Swan Daily asked John Grant of MIDAS Aviation to take a light-hearted look at how those parallels shape up as the Premier League season draws to its conclusion.

His comparison between the top 10 scheduled airlines in Europe based upon OAG's schedules analyser Winter 2017/18 data and the top 10 Premier league teams delivers an interesting correlation.

TABLE - The top 10 European airlines this winter and current English Premier League standingsSource: FA Premier League & OAG Schedules Analyser

The classic low-cost airline battle between Ryanair and easyJet is replicated by the battle in Manchester between City and United. Grudgingly people admire the Ryanair business model and, whilst Pep Guardiolla may display more style in his team's performance than Michael O'Leary, both are ruthlessly efficient in destroying the competition. For Manchester United and their overseas fans connectivity to city-centre locations is crucial so easyJet's network offers numerous opportunities for connectivity.

Both Turkish Airlines and Liverpool are under relatively new management. Bilal Eksi and Jurgen Klopp have both settled well into their roles and expansive would be a decent description of both the airlines and football team's ambitions. Turkish are once again adding new destinations whilst Liverpool are certainly catching the eye with their attacking style of play.

Consistent performers, both Lufthansa and Spurs impress but frequently fail to deliver the silverware that their performances deserve. In some ways it's a shame that Lufthansa have resolved their industrial issues since Harry Kane is proving an impressive striker and could have done a great job for the airline. With Lufthansa recently launching a new corporate identity don't be surprised to see Spurs follow in July this year as they head back to their new home and see opportunities for new shirt sales!

British Airways and Chelsea and their south west London bases offer too many parallels. Both teams are comprised of more overseas players than locals and, indeed, both are capable of producing dour but steady customer experiences for their regular followers. Both airline and football team were once champions but have struggled recently as they've sought to compete with the emergent competition.

Arsenal and Air France share more than just French management. Both were once great, but both now seem to have lost their way, with Arsenal introducing new players half way through the season and Air France launching new airlines but with the similar cost bases. Sadly, Air France and Arsenal look like they are in a period of transition. But then again, haven't Air France always been there!

Pragmatic football and pragmatic airline, Burnley and Aeroflot. In both cases there is some admiration about how well Burnley have performed and how Aeroflot appear to have successfully arrived as a credible brand. It's very unlikely that Burnley will ever serve up caviar football but then again it would probably freeze on the terraces of Turf Moor. In both cases better-than-expected results, a steely determination and occasionally hostile local climatic conditions see these two well suited.

SAS and Leicester are both steady performers, quietly going about their business. Leicester's incredible Premier League win in 2015/6 is unlikely to ever be repeated and SAS's number one market position is equally under constant pressure from the formidable Norwegian network. Both airline and club share strong links to Thailand, so it should be easy for Leicester to plan their next pre-season tour, if they want to visit again.

KLM and Watford are both consistent mid-table performers so being equal in their respective tables is no surprise. Both the airline and team have had some Italian investment interest that has perhaps been slightly more difficult to control than originally planned. And with Watford having a stand named after Elton John, it can't be long before the remaining fans start singing "I guess that's why they call it the Blues"

Pegasus Airlines and Brighton, have one word in common - "who?". Neither are well known outside of their local market, both seem to be punching a little above their weight and both have a flying animal (Horse & Seagull) as part of their identity. In both cases some pretty frantic wing flapping may just keep them hovering around where they are as the season comes to an end.

Ultimately football and aviation are both big money businesses with global brands and supporters in the furthest corners of the globe. And as some global airline brands come and go so does the success of many teams, and sometimes it's as important to survive as it is to beat the competition. For every Alitalia there is a Sunderland and for every Manchester City there is an Etihad (if only!) but one important thing remains for sure, failure to change and prepare for competition can have disastrous consequences for both airline and football teams.