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 arrange last minute long-haul rescue flight

Our assistance was called upon for a last-minute long-haul evacuation fight following recent events.

Smart Aviation are renowned for our ability to arrange last minute charters across the globe, whether for Airlines, private clients or tour operators.

Aircraft charter for last minute flight

At the end of last week, we received a call from our client, one of Europe’s largest travel companies, who needed a last-minute charter to repatriate clients from Sri Lanka following recent events.

Smart Aviation’s James Gregory was our Duty Manager. He quickly identified there was an Airbus A340 widebody airliner available and ready to depart at short notice. Agreements with the client were made swiftly leaving James to work on the remainder of the flight preparation.

James worked tirelessly all weekend to ensure no detail was missed in this challenging yet sensitive circumstance. “I continued liaising with the agencies to ensure all flight permits were in place, helped make arrangements for additional security whilst the crew were on the ground and kept all parties informed with the flight progress. Everything was taken care of,” he said.

Late last night our charter safely returned to Europe with almost 300 guests of our travel client on board. We are delighted that even in challenging and sensitive situations, our client trusted Smart Aviation to ensure their passengers could return home safely.

Contact our team today for all your charter requirements.

Summer Placement

Smart continue to help young talent

Smart Aviation are always keen to help the next generation gain that valuable first step on the ladder in aviation. We update our website regularly so please check our careers section for future opportunities.

This Summer we had the opportunity to welcome Joe Savage to the team,  Joe is the son of our Sales Director Matthew and has literally grown up hearing about the airline business.

Matthew said “Joe has always been keen to know more about my work as he has been hearing my stories of arranging aircraft charters around the world since he was a small boy!  He’s currently studying for a Business Logistics & Transport Management degree at the University of Greenwich and his Summer break coincided nicely with our need to bring someone in to supplement our marketing and telesales activity.”

Joe jumped at the chance to gain some first hand work experience in a dynamic environment, and has been able to secure some valuable new contacts for us, and generated several new enquiries for the business.  Its been a great learning experience for him, and we wish him well on the next two years of hard study!

You can read more about Joe’s Smart Summer on his Linkedin page.

 

Ibiza 2018

Private jet charter to Ibiza

Our most-chartered-to summer destination

We charter private jets to Ibiza for big name DJs and music artists every year – they travel smart, often spending just a couple of hours at an event before flying on to their next gig on the same night.

But they’re missing out; the White Isle has so much to offer that it’s one of our most chartered to European destinations every summer. Stay a while and this pretty, sun-drenched island will have you hooked and coming back year after year – just ask our Managing Director, Mark!

Flying to the White Isle

If you’re Ibiza bound this summer, we’ll make sure your private jet charter is as exceptional as this Balearic beauty. Our quick, discreet private jet charter service is fully bespoke and will ensure you receive the most convenient and comfortable travel experience. We’ll listen carefully to your requirements to source the perfect private jet charter for your trip to Ibiza, accommodating all those personal touches that are so important.

Whether you’re travelling to Ibiza with family, friends or both, we have access to private jets of all sizes – including the most desired jets available for charter – so can source the very best aircraft for your party.

Ibiza’s international airport (IBZ) (Catalan: Aeroport d’Eivissa or Spanish: Aeropuerto de Ibiza) has a dedicated private jet terminal, away from the main terminal building. Upon arrival, we can organise an onward helicopter transfer to your villa, yacht or event, if required.

Contact us for a private jet charter quote

A sensational month of sport

What a month we’ve had so far!

Ahead of the Champions League Final this weekend, we’re reflecting on what will be our busiest month of sports charters this year.

There’s no doubt about it – the Champions League Final is a logistically challenging event to source aircraft and secure slots for, but the experience and knowledge of our team has ensured that our sports travel clients are fully prepared and able to deliver their tour packages to customers.

Mark, our Founder and MD and Matthew, our Sales Director, with over 45 years’ experience in aviation between them, have committed time and expertise to ensure that everything is in place.

Our team’s decades of experience, unrivalled relationships with operators and leverage in the European market ensure that we deliver the most cost-effective solution for our clients, without compromising on quality, every time. We’re proud that our clients rely on us year-after-year because, when it comes to unmissable sports fixtures, there’s no room for mistakes.

Here’s a roundup of all our sports charters in May:

Champions Cup Final, Bilbao, 12th May

Racing 92 v Leinster Rugby

Our day return charters carried over 2,500 Leinster rugby supporters from Dublin International Airport (DUB) to Bilbao Airport (BIO) to see their team play in the final – and win.

Europa League Final, Lyon, 16th May

Marseille v Atlético Madrid

We had several aircraft charters for Atlético Madrid supporters from Madrid Airport (MAD) to Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS) to see their team beat Marseille 3 – 0 at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Champions League Final, Kiev, 26th May

Real Madrid v Liverpool

Our direct charter flights will ensure that over 2,500 Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters will be in Kiev to see the Champions League Final.

Team Travel

As well as supporter travel, we’ve chartered aircraft on behalf of European football clubs for their team travel to Premiership, Championship, La Liga and Austrian Bundesliga fixtures. And with the summer break, we’ve assisted professional football players with private jet charters to holiday destinations across the world too.

Follow our #smartlovessport hashtag on Instagram for all our sport related news.

Winter Olympics 2018

A VIP aircraft charter for Team Canada

On 8 February 2018, the Canadian men’s ice hockey team flew into Yangyang International Airport for the Winter Olympics, which take place at PyeongChang resort in South Korea.

We were delighted and proud to charter the aircraft on their behalf, with European business aviation company Klasjet.

The unique Boeing 737-500, a narrow-body business aircraft, was selected for its unique VIP configured cabin. With 56 business class seats, the aircraft was designed with the requirements of sports teams in mind and provided a supremely comfortable flight for the team, considered to be one of the strongest men’s ice hockey teams in the world.

Our Sales Director, Matthew Savage, oversaw the flight from Latvia to South Korea. “Most other athletes travelling to the Winter Olympics have to fly to Seoul and travel overland. Our VIP charter for Team Canada meant that they were able to fly directly to Yangyang, the closest international airport to PyeongChang – just one of the many benefits of a private aircraft charter for team travel.’ said Matthew.

Our experience and expertise in aircraft charter for professional sports teams meant that we were able to provide the best solution for the requirements of the group with this unique aircraft. With such a prestigious event ahead of them, it was imperative that the team received a seamless travel experience.

‘Our service has already been used by several well-known football and basketball teams. We are proud that the Canadian national hockey team, which will defend the champions’ title at the Olympics, chose our company. It is a significant assessment and achievement for us. Of course, this is a great responsibility due to working with the customers of such level. Every detail is extremely important and everything must be done perfectly,’ said Dovydas Jurgelevicius, CEO of KlasJet.

We wish the Canadian ice hockey team the best of luck in the Winter Olympics 2018. Go Team Canada!

aircraft - winter olympics

Klasjet interior - winter olympics

Luggage at airport - winter olympics

Team Canada on-board - winter olympics

Aircraft on runway - winter olympics

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