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.

Smart’s Groundbreaking Benfica Flight for Sons of Struth takes off from Glasgow

Smart’s Groundbreaking Benfica Flight for Sons of Struth takes off from Glasgow

Scottish football legend Willie Henderson joins once-in-a-lifetime flight.

The first ever chartered plane for a grassroots football club in Scotland.

 

Today (21 September 2021) 125 aspiring young footballers from Sons of Struth Football Academy departed Glasgow Airport for their groundbreaking trip to Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Portugal. The flight today was the first ever chartered plane for a grassroots football club in Scotland. Retired Scotland and Rangers football legend Willie Henderson, also joined the once-in-a-lifetime flight.

Leading global sports charter specialists, Smart Aviation, is the official aircraft charter partner for the flights, operated by Smart’s long-standing charter partner Jet2.com.

The players aged between six and 14 got to train like their heroes and be put through their paces at a special training academy before experiencing a private guided tour of the iconic stadium.

This exclusive trip for the children has taken months of extensive planning and fundraising by the academy. 190 passengers – including the young players, ex-Rangers legends, national journalists, coaches and volunteers – departed from Glasgow Airport on a next generation 737-800 aircraft on 21 September 2021 and will return later today.

Hawkins said: “We are thrilled to be working with Sons of Struth Football Academy and are truly honoured to have chartered the first chartered ever flight for a football academy in Scotland today. Football is very much at the heart of Smart and to be chosen to charter the flights for these young players brings us much delight. Everyone has worked so hard to make this happen and to see the kids so excited today has been wonderful.”

For further information on Smart Aviation and to book, visit www.smart-aviation.co.uk, email sales@smart-aviation.co.uk or call +44 (0) 01293 551244.

 

The Smart Guide to travelling to Ibiza this summer

19 July 2021: Ibiza is always an extremely popular hotspot for British holidaymakers and even though the beloved Balearic Island is currently on the UK’s amber list, both vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors can still travel to Ibiza to soak up the sun this summer.

Whilst current travel rules are somewhat complicated, fear not. Here’s the Smart Guide to Travelling to Ibiza This Summer, detailing all you need to know:

  1. Spain’s current guidelines state that if you show proof of a full vaccination record at least 14-days prior to entering Ibiza, then you will be allowed into the island. If you’re not fully vaccinated, then you can show a negative Covid test (PCR, LAMP, TMR or NEAR – antigen tests are not accepted) before you fly, conducted by one of the government’s approved test providers. Click here for the full list.
  2. 48 hours before you return to the UK, fill in a passenger locator form It’s free and all done online.
  3. In line with current government guidelines that came into effect at 4 a.m. today (19 July 2021), travellers that are fully vaccinated can holiday on the island and not have to quarantine when they return. If you’re not fully vaccinated, then unfortunately current UK rules state you have to quarantine for ten days.
  4. Book a private test on day 2 on arrival back into the UK. You can find a travel test provider here.

Visitors looking to fly to Ibiza this summer, can do so using Smart Aviation’s 16-years of private jet charter experience. Not only can visitors travel safely and avoid busy terminals, they can travel in style and to their own agenda via private jet. Our bespoke operation takes care of all the personal touches including baggage management, on-board service and high-quality dining, as well as luxury transfers.

Smart Aviation’s Head of VIP Charter, James Gregory, said: “Ibiza is always a top destination for our private jet operation and this year is no different. With all the movement within the traffic light system, travel guidelines continue to be very complicated, however, our expert team will continue to provide our clients with the most up-to-date advice. Holidaymakers can still have a fantastic holiday in Ibiza this summer and we’ll ensure their journey there is stress-free.”

Get a quote today.

Why choose Smart?

Our business revolves around you

  • Exactly what you need
  • You’re dealing with the experts. Our goal is excellence in service and execution – our extensive knowledge and expertise ensure we deliver.

Cost effective with no compromise

  • Our unrivalled operator relationships and leverage in the European market ensures you get the most cost-effective solution, without compromising on quality.

We are always available

  • Our operational support team is on-hand 24/7, 365 days a year, to deal with the unexpected and keep you flying – for total peace of mind.

 

 

 

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.

 

Charter a Jet

European charter specialists

We have access to aircraft of all sizes, so we’ll find the perfect aircraft for any charter requirement.

Our aircraft charter services include commercial jet, private jet and helicopter charters.

Private jet charter
For the discerning business or leisure traveller.

Commercial jet charter
Charter flights for groups of 20+ passengers.

Helicopter charter
For ultra-convenient business travel.

View our charter brochure.

Private Jet Charter

Personalised convenience & comfort

For the discerning global business or leisure traveller, we provide a fully bespoke private jet charter service, accommodating all those personal touches that are so important.

We have access to private jets of all sizes, including the most desired executive jets available for charter, so can find the perfect aircraft for any charter requirement. Our experienced private jet charter specialists are there to listen to your needs and can react quickly to present the best options at the most competitive price.

We cater for the most complex travel itineraries and always go out of our way to meet any customised requests from our clients. From aircraft livery to branded cabins, in-flight dining and services through to executive airport transfers. We can do it all.

We have the market expertise to provide you with the best private charter options and our commitment to service means we consistently deliver time and again.

And, if something unexpected should happen, you can count on us to be there. Our 24/7, 365 operational support team will do whatever is needed to keep you on schedule.

So, no matter how simple or elaborate your needs, our quick, discreet and personalised private jet charter service will ensure you receive the most convenient and comfortable travel experience.

Get closer to your destination

When time is of the essence, or to get directly to your final destination, our door-to-door helicopter charter is an additional service for ultra-convenient travel.

Why choose us?

Our business revolves around you

Exactly what you need
You’re dealing with the experts. Our goal is excellence in service and execution – our extensive knowledge and expertise ensure we deliver.

Cost effective with no compromise
Our unrivalled operator relationships and leverage in the European market ensures you get the most cost-effective solution, without compromising on quality.

We are always available
Our operational support team is on-hand 24/7, 365 days a year, to deal with the unexpected and keep you flying – for total peace of mind.

Empty Legs

What is an empty leg?

Those in the know use ’empty legs’ to reduce the cost of regular private jet charter. If you have a bit of flexibility in your schedule then choosing an empty leg could well be for you.

Put simply, they are empty flights – due to operate without any passengers, one way, as the aircraft and crew need to reposition back to base or elsewhere for the next flight.

It makes good business sense to have someone on-board sharing some of the cost of the flight. These empty sectors are offered at a reduced price; a win-win situation and the perfect solution to that last minute business flight or personal trip.

Charter a private jet empty leg through us

You’ll receive the same standard and benefits of private jet travel, both on the ground and in the air, with the added advantage of a more cost effective way to travel.

Please contact our dedicated charter specialists 24/7 with your empty leg request.

Helicopter Charter

When time is of the essence

Time is a precious commodity. By using our bespoke helicopter charter service, we ensure that none is wasted.

Our door-to-door helicopter charter service is ideal if you require a short transfer to get closer to your destination, or if your destination is inaccessible by other aircraft.

For business travellers who want ultra-convenient travel, or who wish to visit multiple sites in a day, our helicopter charters enable you to fully maximise your time.

Available as a stand-alone service or in conjunction with a private jet charter, we can provide the epitome of flexible, convenient and reliable travel.

Why choose us?

Our business revolves around you

Exactly what you need
You’re dealing with the experts. Our goal is excellence in service and execution – our extensive knowledge and expertise ensure we deliver.

Cost effective with no compromise
Our unrivalled operator relationships and leverage in the European market ensures you get the most cost-effective solution, without compromising on quality.

We are always available
Our operational support team is on-hand 24/7, 365 days a year, to deal with the unexpected and keep you flying – for total peace of mind.

Smart Aviation

Smart Aviation