smart since 2005

Founder Mark Hawkins looks back at 16 years of Smart.

Smart Aviation turns 16 this week. We sat down with Smart’s Founder and Managing Director Mark Hawkins to take a look back at the highlights and challenges of the last 16 years.

Why did you decide to set up Smart Aviation?

I have been working in the aviation industry for the last 28 years, starting out at Air 2000 in 1993. At Excel Airways/Aviation I was pivotal in their sports charter’s operation and during the Champions League final in 2005, I chartered over 30 aircraft for Liverpool fans to attend the final. After three years, I decided that it was time to branch out on my own. My goal was to become one of the world’s leading charter providers and over the last 16 years, I am proud to say we have achieved that.

What been the key to Smart’s success?

Our initial success was down to our immense sports charter operation; sport has always been at the core of what we do. We had overnight success with that part of the business and have overseen thousands of flights to key fixtures and tournaments. ACMI still continues to part key to our business and lots of large airlines come to us with their AOG issues long and short term.

What’s been the most challenging part of the last 16-years?

I would have to say Covid has been the most challenging obstacle we have faced as a business. The different, constantly changing travel restrictions was the most challenging part but I’m pleased to say are continuing to navigate our way through the changes and feel confident that travel is finally returning and will continue to do so (fingers crossed).

What do you think has been Smart’s biggest achievement?

Building such a phenomenal and dedicated team is something I am immensely proud of. They have grown the business alongside me.  Chartering aircraft for some of the biggest sports names in the market and arranging a huge number of replacement aircraft during the Iceland ash cloud eruption in 2011, are also right up there.

What do you think has been the biggest change in the industry since Smart started?

The lack of charter airlines willing to operate during their peak season means adhoc flights have got less and less every year. We do work with several quality airlines who support us year-round, ensuring we can service our all-important clients.

How important is company culture to you and what measures do you take to maintain it?

Very important. Every new member of the team goes through induction training to ensure they deliver the highest level of communication and respect to all our partners. Every client must receive the ‘Smart Service’.

What are your long-term goals for Smart?

To continue to be right at the top of our game, grow the team and continue to be Smart.

60 second interview with Head of Business Development, Sam White

Sam White is Smart’s newest recruit, and she brings with her a wealth of experience from 25-years in the aviation industry.

Here’s 60-seconds with Sam, Smart’s Head of Business Development.

How long have you been at Smart Aviation?

I joined Smart in September 2020 from an aircraft charter company, where I spent 15 years managing the commercial client charter requirements.

What did you do before Smart?

I have been in the aviation industry since I graduated from the University of Greenwich with a degree in Leisure and Tourism. I always knew I wanted to work in aviation, and I got my first role at Cosmos in 1996 in the reservations department. From Comsos I joined the commercial airline Air 2000, which is where I first worked with Smart’s MD, Mark Hawkins. Shortly before Air 2000 folded in 2004, I had already made the decision that I wanted to move into the broking world. I got my first role as a broker in 2003 and then a few years later I was headhunted for a commercial role at another firm. I stayed there for 15 years.

What is your role at Smart?

As Smart’s Head of Business Development, I look for new business opportunities alongside building and maintaining relationships with our clients across all the industries on the commercial jet side of the business.

Why did you want to work in aviation?

The simple answer is I love planes. I have always been fascinated by them and my friends would most likely call me a plane geek. The Boeing 757-200 is my favourite plane. I will always be grateful to Cosmos for giving me my first step into the exciting world of aviation.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love people as much as I love planes and I enjoy talking to all the different types of people that I do in this role. Building those relationships is very important to me. No two days at Smart are the same; I never know who I am going to pick the phone up to or who I will meet in person at the airport.

What’s been your proudest achievement at Smart?

I don’t have one specific achievement; I am genuinely just so proud to work here. I get a buzz every day when I get an enquiry from a client. I have brought lots of opportunities to the business this last year, which gives me great job satisfaction.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love spending time with my children and walking our dog, Nelly, a one-year-old Cockapoo. I run regularly and am an avid skier. I can’t wait to get back on the slopes!

What one item do you rely on most to do your job?

It must be my extensive black book of contacts that I have built up over the years. I treasure the long-standing relationships that I have with my clients, and I relish regularly meeting new contacts in the industry.

How do you feel about being a woman in the aviation industry?

After 25 years in aviation, I would still say women are in the minority, but to me it’s not a negative thing. I have always worked in male dominated environments, and I enjoy that. It has certainly changed a lot over the years though. It’s getting more equal and there are opportunities for women in the industry if they want them. I would say 50% of my clientele are female and some prefer having that interaction with a woman. I am proud to work in the industry and I don’t feel at all disadvantaged in it being female.

 

16 reasons to book Smart!

In honour of Smart Aviation LTD turning 16 years old this week, we’re humbly looking back on our journey to becoming the world’s leading global sport charter specialist and the reasons why our clients have continued to book with us over the years.

We were founded in October 2005 by our Managing Director Mark Hawkins, an established sports charter specialist with over 25 years’ experience in senior operational roles within the travel and aviation industry. Over the last 16 years, we have arranged successful charters to leading sport fixtures, transported thousands of passengers on their annual pilgrimages to Lourdes, and organised too many exclusive private jet charters around the world to even count.

Hawkins said: “I reflect with great pride on all the Smart team has achieved over the last 16 years. What was a dream for me, became a reality for us all and despite the challenges we have faced over the years, particularly this last year, we’re standing here stronger than ever. I still get that enormous buzz seeing one of our flights take off and we genuinely all love what we do for all our clients.”

Here’s our 16 reasons to book Smart Aviation LTD:

Smart’s business evolves around you and exactly what you need.

Market leverage for the most cost-effective charter solutions.

Access to jets of all sizes departing from a wide range of stunning private terminals.

Relationships with operators that is unrivalled.

Team with extensive aviation experience.

 

Available 24/7, seven days a week for all your travel requirements.

Very friendly service with members of the teams seeing each flight off at departure.

Independent and uniquely positioned to deliver the perfect charter solutions.

A bespoke operation taking care of all the personal touches.

Travel and aviation experience spanning over 200 years across the team.

Integrated booking service including private transfers, meals request and other requirements.

Offering flexible solutions to all types of travel enquiries.

No-obligation quotes for all flights.

 

Leasing services that are easily bookable for the client.

The most extensive network of contacts and reputable carriers.

Dedicated to you, the client, always.

 

To book, email sales@smart-aviation.co.uk or call +44 (0) 01293 551244 today.

A Smart look back at Euro 2020

What a brilliant Euro 2020 tournament! England did us all proud and congratulations to Italy for winning what was a very tough competition.

As the leaders in global sports aircraft chartering, having just finished our fifth consecutive European Championship football operation, the Euros certainly kept us all busy here at Smart Aviation HQ. In the absence of flying British fans to matches, we successfully chartered aircrafts for government officials, media, VIP guests and fans from different countries to one of the many host countries.

During Covid, we’ve seen that our clients are relying on our 16-years of expertise more than ever and we were delighted to be involved in such a huge, global tournament again.

Founded in 2005 by sports charter specialist, Managing Director Mark Hawkins, Smart Aviation has overseen key sporting fixtures around the world including Champions League and Premier League football matches, as well as to ice-hockey, boxing, basketball, golf, motorsport and cricket tournaments.

Mark Hawkins said: “We’ve had great success with our charter flights for the Euros over the last few weeks and as global sport charter specialists, we are very easily able to charter flights for travellers from different countries. We have a reputation for offering the highest level of service in aircraft chartering and that’s why a lot of sports teams and official supporter groups rely on our expertise to ensure both players and fans get to where they need to be promptly, comfortably, and safely. This is our strength and we played to it”.

Why chose Smart Aviation:

Travel Safe

Social distancing measures will be maintained

Deep cleaning, hygiene and sanitisation at private terminals and on private aircrafts

Fewer touch points when travelling privately

Time

You really can buy time; travel to your exact schedule

You dictate when the plane departs and where from

We can handle complex itineraries and multiple stops with ease

Comfort

Luxurious cabins

Space and privacy

Bespoke menus and refreshments

Convenience

Get nearer to your final destination; chartering opens up a whole other world of smaller airports to fly to

No waiting, most private charters fly from private terminals

Avoid long airport queues or security hold ups

No baggage limits

Flexibility

The flexibility to change flight times or airports

Cost

A cost-effective option, taking into account all the benefits and cost of first-class travel with some commercial airlines

Contact Smart Aviation today for a quote.

 

Smart charters to the European qualifiers

European football season continues and Smart Aviation are delighted to be chartering teams.

 

UEFA Champions League and Europa League

 

Since the company started 15 year ago, Smart Aviation have been involved in transporting thousands of teams and football fans around Europe. This week see’s yet another busy week at Smart Headquarters. The team will be seeing off 6 charters for the second qualifying round of the Europa League and third qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

The ongoing situation with COVID 19 has extended safety and security measures on our check list. Safe travelling is our number one priority and the Smart team have effortlessly adapted to the latest travel requirements. Our operations team provide live and up to date travel information from around the world.

Founded in 2005 by sports charter specialist, Managing Director Mark Hawkins, Smart Aviation has overseen key sporting fixtures around the world including Champions League and Premier League football matches, as well as to ice-hockey, boxing, basketball, golf, motorsport and cricket tournaments.

Mark said: “We have a reputation for offering the highest level of service in aircraft chartering and that’s why a lot of sports teams and official supporter groups rely on our expertise to ensure both players and fans get to where they need to be promptly, comfortably and safely.”

 

Contact Smart Aviation today for a non-obligatory quote.

Email: sales@smart-aviation.co.uk

Telephone: +44(0)1293 551244

Smart Aviation commences 15th annual pilgrimage charter operation to Lourdes

The world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage to Lourdes begins this month and Smart Aviation’s comprehensive charter service will be transporting over 43,500 passengers on more than 150 flights to the universal place of meeting, prayer and celebration of life.

Lourdes pilgrimage

 

Since 1858 when the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, over six million worshippers per year travel to the foothills of the Pyrenees, a place that offers hope and consolation to those in need of healing and peace.

For the last 15 years, Smart Aviation has been running a substantial charter operation to the Holy French town from February to October, with departures from Dublin, Shannon and Cork in Ireland, as well as charters from regional UK airports including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and Southampton.

Smart Aviation offers a truly personalised service and is highly experienced in handling the most delicate of requests for clients on the pilgrimage including arranging wheelchair access, meal requirements and dedicated handling agents.

Smart Aviation transports pilgrims to join the most extensive programmes led by Spiritual Directors and coordinated locally with highly skilled teams. With over 22 places of worship to visit, including the miraculous spring in the Grotto that is famous for its healing waters, travellers can choose between short breaks or weeklong pilgrimages. With a huge demand, travellers are advised to book well in advance.

Smart Aviation Managing Director Mark Hawkins said:

“Every year we look forward to the beginning of our charter service to Lourdes, the most visited pilgrimage site in the Christian world. We understand just how important this annual pilgrimage is to these clients and our meticulous attention to detail ensures all passengers arrive relaxed and ready to start their spiritual journey. I also personally join a pilgrimage charter annually to interact with the passengers and ensure the high-standards we have set within the industry continue to be upheld”.

Contact Smart Aviation today

Email: sales@smart-aviation.co.uk

Call: +44(0)1293 551244

Christmas Charter Flights – the perfect celebration

Christmas 2019 – Where are you partying?

Get the party started with a dedicated aircraft charter flight for your team.

Amsterdam Christmas market

Smart Aviation fly corporate groups and top level sports clubs to their end of year Christmas celebrations on dedicated charter flights.

On your own private aircraft you can get the party started (and the champagne flowing) from the moment you board. This is a perfect way to ensure your group have the best possible experience before they’ve even reached their destination.

Our most popular December destinations this year include Amsterdam and Dublin – both less than 2 hours flight time from London. For destinations closer to home, why not consider a VIP helicopter charter?

The benefits of private charter.

There are many benefits to travelling on your own aircraft.

Time

  • You can buy time; travel to your exact schedule
  • You dictate when the plane departs and where from

Comfort

  • Luxurious cabins that far exceed those offered by commercial airlines
  • Bespoke menus and refreshments

Convenience

  • Chartering opens up a whole other world of smaller airports to fly to, getting you nearer your chosen destination.
  • Most private charters fly from private terminals so no waiting
  • No long airport queues or security hold ups
  • No baggage limits

We have a wide choice of aircraft available for group travel; from a turboprop aircraft like a Fokker 50 to a regional jet like the Embraer 135 or 145.

For those seeking the ultimate way to travel, we’ve VIP configured airliners that will seat up to 50 passengers in complete comfort.

Contact us to check aircraft availability for December and a no-obligation quote.
Tel: +44(0)1293 551244

Six Nations kicks off with Smart

Six Nations kicks off with Smart

The Six Nations tournament begins tonight, starting with France v Wales in Paris, and Smart Aviation are celebrating another record year for charters; we have 38 flights planned during the 2019 tournament, and we are carrying over 6000 supporters meaning once again we have earned our reputation as the leading arranger of charter flights for rugby.

Since the company was founded in 2005,  Smart have earned a reputation for going over and beyond to accommodate the needs of their loyal rugby clients who will be travelling on our numerous  charters this year.

As part of that service, Smart will have representatives in Paris, Rome and Dublin to ensure everything goes without a hitch – watch out for updates on our social media as we report on the challenge of organising multiple charters for thousands of fans.

Mark Hawkins, Managing Director of Smart Aviation commented “with over ten years of experience chartering rugby supporters to the six nations we are pleased to have grown our passenger numbers to over 6000 for this tournament, meaning 2019 is a record-breaking year.  We work with some of the largest specialist sports tour operators, and we are looking forward to another successful operation.  The flights create a large volume of workload for Smart and I am delighted that we have an experienced team who can ensure that we never compromise on service in order to look after our clients”

In times of disruption, travel Smart

Hundreds of flights have either been cancelled or diverted following disruption at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) 19th and 20th December 2018.

It’s the last weekend before Christmas and passengers will be travelling to spend time with loved ones.

Gatwick Airport (LGW) have reported sightings of two drones flying over the airport, causing this major disruption.

Smart Aviation, European charter specialists, provide a bespoke charter service. Travelling with Smart means we can provide a unique service for you. We can:

  • React to emergency situations,
  • We maintain a list of flights and airports available so we can get you to your destination as planned,
  • No stress of unexpected delays.

Director of Smart Aviation, Mark Hawkins commented; ‘Disruption before Christmas has put a major strain on airlines, airports and passengers. Smart are here to help provide you with an alternative travel arrangement if needed.’

Contact us:

+44 (0)1293 551244

sales@smart-aviation.co.uk

No such thing as a ‘Break’

International Squads fly Smart

It’s another one of those weekends, as Football leagues around the world take a break for international fixtures, but for Smart Aviation – it’s definitely not a break.

International Squads need to travel for away football fixtures.  This weekend it’s a combination of fixtures in the Nations League as well as an opportunity for Countries to play international friendlies.

As always, Smart are at the centre of the action.

Across the weekend from 16-19 November, Smart will be flying five separate international squads across Europe to reach their away fixtures.  Smart have been a leader in sports travel since we started in 2005.

Our most experienced broker, Clive Head has been busy using his years of experience to ensure everything goes without a hitch for our 5 international clients.

Clive Head, our experienced Sports charter specialist

This weekend you’ll find Clive at Stansted Airport where he will be overseeing the loading of almost four tonnes of sporting equipment plus of course our VIP Sports team onto their private charter flight from the Inflite VIP terminal.

Clive will personally travel on the aircraft to ensure everything runs smoothly when we reach our destination.

Before that Clive is busy checking to ensure the two teams flying today have everything prepared, the aircraft are ready and waiting, and every last detail has been taken care of.

It’s all in a day’s work, but we never forget how important the planning of these flights are, and we pride ourselves in our years of experience and our operational knowledge, to ensure our five international teams arrive on time, fresh and prepared for their next fixture.

And as for Clive, he will be looking forward to his own well-earned break, when this ‘break’ is over.

 

Smart Aviation

Smart Aviation