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.

 

England Green List Countries

On Friday 7th May 2021, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that international travel in England will be restarting. The UK government have introduced a traffic light system for people in England. The initial 12 countries listed, will not require people to quarantine on return from 17 May 2021.

Portugal

The 12 countries and territories on the green list are:

Portugal

Israel

Singapore

Australia

New Zealand

Brunei

Iceland

Gibraltar

Falkland Islands

Faroe Islands

South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands

St Helena, Tristan de Cunha and Ascension Island

The list will be reviewed regularly and countries can be added or removed at short notice.

 

Smart Aviation Managing Director Mark Hawkins said:

“Smart Aviation have been safely chartering during this pandemic. We understand that safety is still our number one priority and we are keen to get our clients travelling to their much loved holiday destinations, reunite with family and friends or enjoy a much needed break. This is a positive step in the right direction for travel and we look forward to more countries added to the green list and the world opening up soon.”

Here at Smart, we have access to many aircrafts flying across Europe and the rest of the world ready for you to use. We’re also making sure we keep up-to-date on the information regarding current restrictions, and we are monitoring these restrictions as the rules begin to change, to ensure you will be traveling safely. When you are ready to book, we will be ready to take you there.

Send us your requirements today and we will provide you with a no obligation quote.

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.

Awesome April

The road map out of the UK lockdown has commenced and now more than ever Smart Aviation clients are ready for the month of April to continue to be awesome.

With the holiday season fast approaching, Smart are ready to take care of your travel arrangements, providing a safer travel option.

Private jet

When travelling by private jet, you can avoid many touch points in the private terminals and on the aircraft from the start to the end of your journey. But that’s not all. Here are a few reasons why you should choose to travel safely by private jet with a trusted charter broker.

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.

At Smart, we have access to many aircrafts flying across Europe and the rest of the world ready for you to use. We’re also making sure we keep up-to-date on the information regarding current restrictions, and we are monitoring these restrictions as the rules begin to change, to ensure you will be traveling safely. When you are ready to book, we will be ready to take you there.

Send us your requirements today and we will provide you with a no obligation quote.

 

COVID-19 private travel

Travel safe, travel smart

Travel safely with Smart Aviation.

Ongoing travel restrictions are changing daily. Scheduled airlines are having to cancel or postpone flights due to the COVID 19 pandemic. At Smart Aviation, safe travelling options for our clients is our priority. Here is the difference between flying with a commercial airline in comparison to a private jet.

Private jet travel is an appealing travel option and proving to be a safer option during COVID 19. The image below shows the difference of the limited amount of contact you can expect on a private jet. This is compared from the terminal to the aircraft and final destination when travelling commercially.

Travelling by commercial airline opens you to up to 977 total interactions. When compared to private jet travel there are up to 8 total interactions.

Travelling by private jet gives you full control of your travel arrangements. You can chose the most suitable airport to depart from or arrive into. Timings can also be arranged according to your schedule.

Contact us today for a non-obligation quote.

 

Travel safe infographic

 

Viva Espana!

VIVA ESPANA! One day after the Summer solstice, Spain is fully opening its borders following one of the toughest lockdowns in Europe.

summer solsticeWe have seen an unprecedented demand over the last few weeks, as the date becomes closer, for travel to Spain. As one of the most popular countries in Europe for second homes, people are clamouring to get back to their vacation properties.

The most popular destinations that Smart are arranging flights for are Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, both easily reachable within a few hours. Aircraft types we have now confirmed include Mustang, CJ2, XLS, Hawker800, Legacy600 and CL850.

Smart Aviation Managing Director Mark Hawkins said ‘It’s been an exciting couple of weeks in the office with huge demand due to the gradual easing of lockdown across Europe. Huge praise to the team for pulling together to assist our Private Jet division.’

As Europe opens up even more, these appealing Spanish destinations should be on your wish list so to arrange your trip, feel free to contact Smart now to discuss any plans. We are fully up to date regarding travel restrictions.

Here we have a brief look at our popular Spanish destinations.

MALLORCA

While justifiably renowned for its beautiful beaches and weather, there is a lot more to this picturesque island in the Balearic than meets the eye. As the largest Island in Spain, the capital Palma offers sightseeing amongst the cathedrals and cobbled streets as well as being its vibrant and lively hub. Further afield there are pretty mountain villages to explore as well as the more infamous beach resorts.

spain beach

IBIZA

Sister island to Mallorca, Ibiza offers an experience like no other. As one of Europe’s favourite nightlife playgrounds. Ibiza boasts more than 100 miles of coastline with some 50 beaches, plus plenty of restaurants, bars, and water sports—and clubs, of course. The White Island will enchant you with its infamous sunsets and quieter coastal villages where you can find peace and tranquillity.

 

MALAGA

The province of Malaga is located in southern Spain, in the region of Andalucía, on the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Its coastline is commonly referred to as the Costa del Sol and extends along 161km with a backdrop of majestic mountains. Inland there are numerous traditional white washed villages. Beaches range from busy and vibrant with bars and restaurants to quiet isolated small coves, where your only company can be the soothing lap of the surf. For the golfers there are many courses some being of world-class golf standard. The local cuisine is full of seafood and shellfish and with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year it has a wonderful sub-tropical Mediterranean climate.

Contact Smart Aviation

Email: sales@smart-aviation.co.uk

Call: +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

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 Aviation

Smart Aviation