Christmas Message from Mark Hawkins
As we reach the end of another year at Smart Aviation, it’s time once again to sit back, take stock of the last 12 months of trading and update our growing list of clients, suppliers and partners on what has been another eventful year for Smart Aviation. I also want to look forward to what will be a historic year in the company history, as 2015 sees the tenth anniversary of Smart Aviation – more about that later.
2014 was a year which saw considerable challenges but also some incredibly satisfying new opportunities, as our carefully managed growth added new members to our highly experienced team to give our clients the most outstanding service for the best possible price.
I wrote last year about how we continued to remain resilient in the face of the dramatically changing airline and operator landscape; how suppliers were sadly disappearing or restructuring and how our vigilance and huge market knowledge ensured our clients were kept away from any potential financial risk by always ensuring we keep them informed and up to date on the very latest developments. Sadly, this theme continued in 2014 with more airlines and operators changing business models or disappearing completely, sometimes overnight. But yet again, thanks to our expert knowledge of the market, our clients have had their considerable investment in aircraft charters protected and we’ve remained largely unaffected by the ongoing turmoil in the aviation industry.
One bright note to end the year on is the recent decline in spot oil prices. We hope that in the New Year this significant drop will feed through to airline pricing and as a result chartering will be an even more cost effective solution for moving small or large numbers of passengers across the globe. Between us, our team at Smart Aviation has well over 100 years of aviation experience and will be putting that to good use to ensure we always deliver on price and service as the market changes.
Our team once again faced significant challenges, both in terms of both supply and competition but have again recorded another successful year, with various large scale charter programmes being secured for clients, including tour operators, pilgrimage charities, football teams and automotive companies. We continue to grow this part of the business and have already identified new opportunities for 2015 which our highly experienced sales team will be looking to exploit.
During 2014, we welcomed two new members to our team who have both had a huge impact on the volume of our private jet charters and helped this side of the business grow again in record numbers.
Matt Feldon joined us as a trainee broker at the beginning of the year and quickly set about making an impact in the fast moving world of music artist and DJ travel. Over the summer, Matt arranged flights for some of the world’s biggest names in music from the clubs of Ibiza to the distant shores of South America and the world’s top DJs are coming to trust Matt to deliver successful private charters and ensure the party never stops.
Marcos Padlan also joined us in 2014 from a private jet operator in Spain and has brought a distinctly European flavour to our private jet client base. We are delighted with the significant number of international clients who now rely on us to arrange their private jet charters worldwide – and Marcos is on course to have an even more successful 2015 with some very interesting projects coming to fruition across Europe.
Our aircraft leasing side of the business has seen another successful 2014, despite the lack of supply at times during the peak season. Our ACMI team have ensured we remain the number one choice for airlines worldwide to find replacement aircraft at the last minute to supplement their own programmes. This year our ACMI Duty Manager, Federico Curto, was joined by Gary Micklewhite who was previously Duty Manager at Thomson Airways and has added even more experience to our team, ensuring we are always able to work hand-in-hand with operations departments to help them recover their programmes from delays and disruption.
Federico has now been promoted to manage the ACMI team and with Federico’s promotion, we will shortly be recruiting for an additional team member so that we enter the peak summer season with a strong 24 hour team ready to face the long days and nights of the summer handling requests from airlines worldwide.
2015 sees the tenth anniversary of Smart Aviation. I founded the company in October 2005 with a small rented office and a handful of clients – and I am delighted and extremely proud of how the company has grown yet still retains its personal touch and bonds with so many fantastic suppliers, who have been with me from the start. I am also incredibly proud of the team we have built here, who all bring their own unique contribution and have such great experience in the industry.
We will be marking our tenth anniversary in style later in the year – and have our work cut out, as many of our suppliers still remind us of the fantastic evening they enjoyed in London in October 2010 when we celebrated our 5th anniversary. It only seems like yesterday!
We look forward to celebrating the year with all of you as we continue to do things the Smart way and we wish you, your colleagues and your families continued success and happiness for the New Year.
Mark Hawkins, Founder and Managing Director