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  1. ITV Report

Cardiff City call for action against illegal flights after Sala crash

Credit: PA

Cardiff City and the Air Charter Association have called for urgent action against illegal flights following the plane crash which led to the death of Emiliano Sala.

Sala was flying to Cardiff in January, after his transfer from French side Nantes, when the plane piloted by David Ibbotson crashed into the English Channel. The body of Mr Ibbotson has not been found.

In a preliminary report, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found the pilot was not licensed to fly fee-paying passengers and the plane itself was not registered to undertake commercial fights.

Mr Ibbotson was the pilot of the plane which crashed into the English Channel Credit: ITV Wales

We wholeheartedly back the Air Charter Association (BACA) in their efforts to secure a review of illegal flights.

Our club has been shocked by the sheer scale of the problem in the sporting world, and more broadly.

The club has a robust flight policy, but we are putting in place additional processes to protect players and staff.

We will be insisting that intermediaries book only commercial licensed air carriers when handling player transfers. We are hopeful that other clubs will take similar positions.

Meaningful progress on this issue - in the form of accountability and protections - would be one positive outcome from what is a terrible tragedy for everyone who knew Emiliano and for the football world as a whole.

– Cardiff City FC statement

The Air Charter Association, the body which represents air charter companies, has called on the UK Government to review the level of criminal liability and enforcement options available to authorities, including bigger fines and prison sentences for pilots and individuals who arrange and undertake illegal flights.

"This must be a watershed moment," said chief executive Dave Edwards.

"We have long argued that illegal flights are harming the legal air charter industry and putting lives of the travelling public at risk.

"It has become so prevalent that there is circumstantial evidence to suggest illegal flights are routinely happening frequently throughout the country.

"We desperately need stronger punishments to be available and, most importantly, better enforcement."