The NBA Owns 11 Delta 757s

The NBA Owns 11 Delta 757s

File this under things most people don't know, the NBA owns eleven Boeing 757-200 aircraft. However you may not even know it because these planes are not painted up in team colors or the NBA logos, rather they are painted to look exactly like commercial passenger carrying Delta aircraft. The only giveaway is that their interiors are not the regular cabin configuration, instead they are in a VIP configuration holding about 70 people.

Partners Since 2015

Around 2015 Delta came to an agreement with the NBA to operate the Boeing 757 on behalf of the NBA. Part of the deal called for Delta to transfer ownership of some of their oldest Boeing 757s ready to be parked in the desert to the NBA and the association would have exclusive control of these aircraft. This meant that Delta couldn't use these aircraft for other team charters or commercial business. In return Delta would staff and operate these airplanes while also being able to advertise their name on the side of the plane.

It was quite the win-win deal. The NBA had a capable aircraft to shuttle their teams around for games and Delta got free advertising of their aircraft and to use their partner ship to promote their charter business. Along with that, the charter customer is usually on the hook for the expenses of crewing the aircraft so Delta gets to charge quite a bit for the contract to carry these teams.

VIP Seating

On the outside these planes look like any other Delta 757, however on the inside you have a completely transformed cabin that any commercial passenger would love to in. Normal Delta 757s carry up to 199 passengers, these NBA 757s only carry around 76 passengers. They are also configured with a majority of the seating laid out with recliner chairs with lots of leg room (remember these planes carry NBA players, and they're not exactly short). Along with the seating there are also large tables that players can sit around, enjoy a meal like at a dinner table or sit around and discuss strategy.

I know I would love to fly in an airplane like this, every seat being basically a first class seat, tables to spread out and get some work done. Limited passengers around you making the airplane seem more spacious. It's like a private jet but better.

No Gates, No Problem

You also won't fine these airplanes sitting on a gate at your local airport. These airplanes, while looking like regular Delta aircraft, don't have to adhere to the strict gating requirements for commercial flights. As such these aircraft usually part at the FBO (Fixed Base Operator), rather than at a gate. This also means these airplanes fly into airports that aren't capable of commercial flight operations. I've seen these airplanes at some wild places including PTK (Pontiac, Michigan) and CPS (St. Louis Downtown).

These planes don't have to conform to normal commercial standards when it comes to where they're allowed to land and takeoff from. In general, as long as the runway can handle a Boeing 757, it can land and takeoff from there with private charger passengers. They're also exempt for most noise abatement rules for airports, and they can operate at all times of the day or night.

Final Thoughts

The next time you see a Delta 757 sitting on a remote stand or parked at a FBO, just remember that what you're looking at isn't really a Delta 757, rather it's an NBA owned private aircraft for the exclusive use by the NBA to transport players around the country. And if you really want to be a sleuth, you could follow the tail number of one of these airplanes and see where it flies and you just might have a good guess at which team these planes are flying around.