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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

Smart Aviation welcome Adam Wilson to our growing charter team

Smart Aviation welcomes Adam Wilson to our growing charter team.

 

Adam brings 8 years of previous aviation and travel experience. Adam has strong background in sales and a great understanding of client relationships and the aviation industry.

‘I enjoy a challenge and looking forward to stepping into a rewarding role, providing clients the best service and the added value of trusting the Smart team.’

Contact the Smart team today for a non-obligatory quote.

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Smart Aviation kicks-off 15th year with impressive Six Nations charter operation

Smart Aviation, the global air charter specialists, celebrates 15 years of operation in 2020 and 15 years of successfully transporting rugby fans from around the world to the annual Six Nations tournament in chartered aircrafts.

Smart Aviation 15 yearsSmart Aviation was founded in 2005 by Managing Director Mark Hawkins, an established sports charter specialist with over 25 years’ experience in senior operational roles within the travel and aviation industry. Previously Hawkins managed sports charters at Excel Airways, which included flying over 4,000 fans to a football final.

Over the last 15 years, Mark has dedicated much of his time to sports clients, overseeing thousands of charters to high profile fixtures and tournaments and positioning Smart Aviation as industry leaders in sport chartering.

Hawkins said: “Sport is definitely at the core of what we do as a company and I have drawn on my many years of experience to develop a highly skilled team that offers a truly personal service to all our clients. The key to our success is flexibility, as each clients’ requirements vary considerably, and our goal is to exceed expectations every time.”

Following a record-breaking 2019, when over 6,000 fans were chartered to Six Nations matches on 38 separately chartered flights, 2020 is set to be another impressive year. When the tournament ‘kick-offs’ on 1 February 2020, Smart Aviation will be involved in chartering flights to Paris, Dublin, Cardiff, Rome, Edinburgh and London, through some of the largest sport specialist tour operators in Europe.

With a reputation for offering the highest level of service in aircraft chartering, each of the flights will be seen off by a Smart Aviation representative on departure.

Smart Aviation’s comprehensive charter service frequently provides air travel for global sports teams to key sporting fixtures including Champions League and Premier League football matches, as well as to ice-hockey, boxing, basketball, golf, motorsport and cricket tournaments.

Hawkins added: “We are excited to be entering our 15th year with not only a fantastic Six Nations charter operation but also a substantial Pilgrim charter program, where Smart Aviation will operate 150 flights to the Holy City of Lourdes between February and October. As well as running our established private jet service, 2020 will be a very active year for the team.”

Smart ACMI division grows

Smart Aviation are pleased to welcome Grace Cartwright to the (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) ACMI division of the company.

ACMI & Flight support officerGrace brings 5 years of aviation experience after previously working for Flybe and Norwegian. Smart Aviation have a fantastic relationship with global airlines. A pivotal part of Grace’s role will be to support Head of ACMI and Operations, Daniel Parker, on a daily basis. This fast-paced role brings together many responsibilities from collating aircraft availability to supporting airlines when they face AOG situations across the globe.

Grace’s title will be ACMI & Flight support officer.

“Having worked for two known aviation companies in my previous roles, I am well accustomed to varied responsibilities. Changes can occur momentarily, yet the buzz of the industry will ensure I exceed in my role to support the Head of ACMI and Operations,” said Grace.

Smart arrange and co-ordinate hundreds of leases on behalf of some of the world’s major carriers. Whether it’s a short term ACMI or a long-term lease, we will provide our clients with the right aircraft, best market prices and we will not compromise on quality. We are on hand 24/7 with up to date flight information, using industry leading flight watching systems.

Daniel Parker, Head of ACMI and Operation at Smart Aviation is delighted the team is growing.

“2019 saw the ACMI department grow from strength to strength. I am positive 2020 will be even better. With Grace on board we have some great plans for the coming year,” said Daniel.

Contact us:

T: +44(0)1293 551244

E: acmi@smart-aviation.co.uk

60 seconds with Managing Director Mark Hawkins

What does a typical day look like for you?

I like to start my day nice and early and often the first one up. I check my emails to begin with and answer anything urgent. Then I get myself up and ready in preparation for the day ahead. Twice a week I take some time out for myself to attend boxing and fitness classes. A couple of times a week I take my daughter to school before heading into the office. I arrive into the office, catch up with my colleagues and start my working day. I still remain very active in the sales at Smart Aviation, working with both new and existing clients. Speaking to clients and following up quotes form a big part of my day.

Managing Director

What do you love about working in Aviation?

I have worked in aviation for over 25 years. The thrill of working in this industry is like no other. I still love fixing a flight and winning a deal, the buzz of beating a competitor is great. No two days are the same. One day I could be dealing with a very high profile football team charter and the next, chartering a Mustang from London to Paris.

 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Lack of available aircraft during peak months is always a challenge. Yet we always come up with an option to serve all our clients. The current market conditions and airlines failing is also challenging.

 

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

Charlotte, my trusted Office Manager and longest employee.

 

What do you do when you are not working?

I visit Liverpool on a regular basis to watch my team play. I often take my children or friends. Some lucky clients have also been invited in the past. In my spare time I enjoy relaxing, listening to music and going to the gym.

 

Where would you be working if you hadn’t chosen aviation?

My very first work experience was at the Fire Station and I was blown away. I believe the fire service are one of the most under rated professions. The work they do, risking their lives on a daily basis is remarkable.

60 second interview with Office Manager Charlotte Sobol

We interviewed Charlotte Sobol, who has worked for Smart Aviation since 2006. She is the back bone of the company. She manages anything from arranging office repairs to managing the company accounts.

 

Charlotte Sobol

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day can be pretty varied. A lot of responsibilities come under the title ‘Office Manager‘. My jobs include invoicing, contracts, wages, bank recs, office admin and maintenance. I’ve even been known to fix a couple of charters!

 

What do you love about working in Aviation?

It’s exciting and fast paced, which I love. No two days are the same and I’ve enjoyed seeing the company grow over the years. The industry is known to host some great aviation events. World Travel Market, International Confex just to name a few. I enjoy networking with colleagues from all around the world. I’ve been able to assist large group charters during big football and rugby games. I’ve also represented on behalf of Smart Aviation on many private jet charters.

 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Payment is a very important factor for any business. Keeping up with contracts and payments can be a challenge as most flights need to be paid in advance.

 

What do you do when you are not working?

I love going to the gym and enjoy playing tennis. I’m no stranger at the theatre! I never miss an opportunity to watch a good stage show.

 

Where would you be working if you hadn’t chosen aviation?

The theatre! On the stage or even assisting back stage. To be part of a production would be rewarding.

 

Private Jet Charter Destinations for Autumn Getaways

Private Jet Charter Destinations, ideal for Autumn Getaways

With the crowds of the peak summer period subsiding, it makes sense to holiday in Europe in September and October. The climate is still favourable throughout most of southern Europe, so it’s a great time to take advantage of the blue skies and warm waters of the Mediterranean.

Reach any of these destinations by private jet charter for the ultimate last-minute Autumn Getaway.

Cote D’Azur, France

The French Riviera is popular with our private jet charter clients throughout the summer months and remains so in September. There are many options for flying into the area; our clients find Nice the most convenient for onward travel to the rest of the region, including Monaco and Antibes.

French Riviera

Fly from London to Nice (NCE) on a return private jet charter starting from €2,225 per person.
Price based on 6 passengers travelling on a Citation CJ2.
Onward travel by helicopter charter available on request.

Tuscany, Italy

September is considered by many to be one of the most pleasant months of the year to be in Tuscany. The vineyards of the area’s rolling green hills are harvesting grapes and it’s a popular time to travel to the region for weddings and festivals.

Tuscany

Fly from London to Pisa (PSA) on a return private jet charter starting from €2,100 per person.
Price based on 6 passengers travelling on a Citation CJ2.

Sicily

Italy’s enchanting island benefits from the warm winds which blow from Africa, so the largest island in the Mediterranean is often hot well into the autumn months. Explore the island’s rich history, dramatic landscape (dominated by Mount Etna) and stunning beaches.

Sicily

Fly from London to Palmero (PMO) on a return private jet charter starting from €3,700 per person.
Price based on 7 passengers travelling on a Citation II.

Puglia, Italy

Italy’s ‘heel’ is renowned for its stunning beaches, architecture and some of the best Italian food on offer – all the more enjoyable under the warm Apulian sun in late summer. The temperate waters of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas are best enjoyed on a boat charter to take in the region’s beautiful coastline.

Puglia

 

Fly from London to Lecce Airport (LCC) on a return private jet charter starting from €2,800 per person.
Price based on 6 passengers travelling on a Citation CJ2.

Marrakech, Morocco

OK, it’s not Europe. But September is the perfect time for an unforgettable trip to Morocco. Soak up the romance of Marrakech in autumn, with warm, dry days and cooler nights – ideal for exploring all the city has to offer.

Marrakech

Fly from London to Rabat Airport (Morocco) on a return private jet charter starting from €3,000 per person.
Price based on 7 passengers travelling on a Hawker 400XP.

For villa accommodation in The French Riviera, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and Marrakech, visit www.qualityvillas.com

*All prices and options are subject to availability

Private Jets chartered to the party capital of the world

A record number of private jets are off to the party capital of the world, Ibiza.

2019 will be a year to remember as Ibiza welcomes back chart-topping DJ Calvin Harris for the first time in 5 years. He will be playing only 11 dates in Ushuaia and Pacha. One of the most popular private jet destinations is about to see a record number of jets due to this music sensation.

Ibiza party

This is one of the busiest times of the year for Music Specialist Charter Broker, James Gregory. His knowledge of this industry means he is the go-to person at Smart Aviation providing a fully bespoke private jet service.

“This is an extremely fast paced industry bringing challenges which I welcome. We work closely with tour managers to make travel arrangements according to their specified schedule. After this, we make it our role to work everything out. Smart bring together over 200 years of aviation and travel knowledge and we work with the industry’s most reputable carriers. This gives us the advantage to always provide our clients with the very best competitive price and ideal aircraft,” said James

James’s check list will include:

  • Nearest airport
  • Departure times including late night / early morning departures
  • Catering
  • Wifi

Whilst also considering:

  • Tight schedules and short time frames
  • Multiple appearances at various locations
  • Last minute amends
  • Extra passengers
  • Branding if required

The White Isle is one of our most chartered to European destinations every summer for DJs / Artists as well as clients attending the summer fun. The Balearic Island of Ibiza is famously recognised as the party capital of the world. However, Ibiza also offers opportunities for a relaxing holiday with its picturesque villages and spectacular beaches.

It’s still not late to travel to the Balearic Islands this summer. Contact us for a non-obligatory quote today.

Email: sales@smart-aviation.co.uk

Call: +44(0)1293 551244

You can speak to James Gregory or any member of our team.

60 seconds with Charter Broker Clive Head

Clive has over 40 years aviation industry knowledge and is a real asset to the Smart team.

Clive is an approachable colleague and the ‘go to’ person in the office for his industry experience.

Clive Head - Charter Broker

What does a typical day look like for you?

Working in the commercial jet side of the business means I take full responsibility of high-profile sports men and women. Detail is key in my role. Collating relevant information and researching ahead of contacting clients shows professionalism and helps build trust from the very first conversation. I catch up on world and industry news as the aviation world can change at the blink of an eye.

What do you love about working in Aviation?

I’ve been interested in aviation since the age of 8. My father used to work for British United Engineering, at Southend Airport back in the 1950’s (Now I’m really showing my age!). My work in aviation began as an Air Traffic Control Assistant at Southend Airport and I have been in aviation since. Every day is different in my role. Its an extremely enjoyable industry to be a part of.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Gaining the trust of new clients is always a challenge but once they have experienced the Smart journey, they are loyal customers. My industry knowledge allows me to deal with any unforeseen circumstances swiftly. Knowing who to contact and how to rectify an issue comes with years of rapport building.

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

My experience in the aviation industry is the one thing I will forever be able to rely on for my job. I have become the ‘go to’ person in the office for my aviation knowledge, which I am happy to share with my team.

What do you do when you are not working?

In my spare time I enjoy socialising with friends and am no stranger to concerts. I’m not one to sit around, there’s too many amazing places to explore in the world.

Where would you be working if you hadn’t chosen aviation?

I have been in aviation all of my working life, so I’ve never really given this much thought. I enjoy my sports, playing when I was younger and now watching and supporting various sports. I also enjoy painting and decorating. It’s an extremely therapeutic task which requires much patience.

60 seconds with Charter Broker James Gregory

James Gregory, from our full charter team, has 8 years worth of aviation knowledge specialising in private jet charter.

After kick starting his career with a major charter broker, James talks about how working for Smart makes him no less knowledgeable as a broker.

James Gregory Charter Broker

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

To begin my day, I like to update myself on world events and aviation news. Aviation changes overnight so I ensure I am up to speed to react accordingly. I deal with new enquiries personally by responding and keep clients / suppliers up to date with their requests from the very beginning. I believe in keeping an open and honest relationship with clients. Using industry leading flight watching software I monitor live flights and share these updates. Its important to maintain an ongoing relationship with both clients and suppliers, so I ensure regular contact is made either by email, phone or even a face to face catch up.

What do you love about working in Aviation?

No two days are the same when working in aviation. One minute I could be working on my daily tasks and the next assisting on a last-minute request. I enjoy the variation in this field. I get to speak to and visit people in various time zones, cultures and nationalities. My most enjoyable trip has been visiting clients and operators in LA but equally I got to visit this phenomenal destination. My interest for aviation goes back to seeing my grandad selling aircraft spares out of the Beehive at London Gatwick Airport.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

There can be instant diversions in aviation. It could be caused by natural disaster, technical issues, unexpected disruption, slot delays or even lack of parking slots at top destinations in Europe. Each situation has its own protocol which again reiterates the importance of an open and honest relationship with all clients and suppliers.

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

I have worked in aviation for 8 years and my knowledge of this industry is something I will always be able to rely on. I am always available for my clients and suppliers 24/7. Smart Aviation may be smaller than our competitors but no less knowledgeable. The trust we build with our clients to provide a specialist service guarantees repeat business.

What do you do when you are not working?

In my spare time I enjoy socialising with friends and catching up on sporting activities. There’s often a competitive atmosphere in the office as we all support different football teams. My holidays are generally pretty active too. I enjoy skiing and water sports.

Where would you be working if you hadn’t chosen aviation?

I most definitely would have been doing something related to cars. I’m a big petrol head and love all things cars. I’m an extremely active person and like to keep busy. To teach others an energetic sport like skiing would be extremely rewarding.

Contact James with your private jet request on: sales@smart-aviation.co.uk or call: +44(0)1293 551244

Connect with James Gregory on LinkedIn

Smart Aviation

Smart Aviation