Private Charter flights are highly recommended for sports team travel, providing a safer and more flexible travel option.
Despite the tough year for the Aviation industry – Smart Aviation has been seeing an increase in charter flights in March. Thanks to international football matches still being allowed to continue. This is, of course, without fans but nevertheless Smart has been involved in moving international football teams to their World Cup qualifiers matches and some international friendlies. March has been our busiest month so far this year with over 19 charters for domestic UK football teams and football teams around Europe, which is proof that the industry is picking up and confidence is growing in air travel once again.
Clive Head, our specialist sports broker has over 30 years experience in the industry and has been working hard with some international federations and teams as well as our trusted suppliers to ensure everything is organised to ensure smooth transfers of players and kit to their final destination in a safe manner.
At Smart we don’t just charter for football. We are incredibly proud that over the last quarter we have been involved in moving sports men and women to Ice Hockey, Handball and Basketball games. We have also been working hard with the organisers of the high profile Boxing match in Gibraltar this weekend. Brief’s such as these, especially in these current times take a lot of planning and we have worked closely with Inflite private terminal in Stansted and other authorities to ensure the passengers all have the correct paperwork in order to be allowed to travel and to ensure their journey is seamless from the point of departure to their arrival in Gibraltar.
As always, the Smart operations team were on hand 24/7 updating our clients with flight progress using industry leading systems.
Why choose Smart?
– You’re dealing with the experts. Our goal is excellence in service and execution – our extensive knowledge and expertise ensure we deliver.
– Our unrivalled operator relationships ensure you get the most cost-effective solution, without compromising on quality.
– 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.
Tuesday’s most spoken about European destination at Smart Aviation HQ was the beautiful city of Athens, and here is why. Amongst many of our football flights Smart had an aircraft prearranged for a football team and staff.
Smart Operations monitor our charter flights around the clock. On the routine pre-operation checks Smart discovered a notification that Athens airside and ATC will go on strike during the event of our return charter flight. During the course of the day our operation team liaised with the aircraft supplier to maintain the most up to date information regarding the pending strike. At around 15.00 GMT Head of Charter Flight Operations Daniel Parker received a call from the supplier to reconfirm that Athens were due to go on an ATC strike at midnight local time.
“Our flight was due to return after midnight local time, we needed to get our passengers back to their destination. We quickly began to monitor and take control of the situation for our client,” said Daniel.
Smart Aviation have 15 years’ experience in aviation, our teams are fully trained and knowledgeable. This ensures that we provide an exceptional service at all times.
Whilst Daniel was working through a solution for our football team with his operations department and aircraft supplier, Head of VIP Charter James Gregory was contacted by a client from the opposing team to locate a private jet for their player. This player needed to arrive at his next destination in time for an upcoming match which he wouldn’t have made due to the strikes in Athens. Faced with the same issues with the strike information, James swiftly contacted one of his trusted Private Jet operators who shed further light on the situation at Athens.
“Time is of the essence when working around restrictions. We have all built a tremendous rapport with clients, agents and operators. An ATC strike as well as a ground handling strike in Athens meant we needed to start working fast for a swift solution,” commented James.
Our priority is always to put our passengers and their safety first and Smart Aviation are available 24/7.
“My team worked tirelessly and both the football team and the player were back where they needed to be. With added complexity of an ATC and ground handing strike its vital we call upon our knowledge, experience and relationships to resolve the issue and come through with the right solution for the clients. We work as a team here at Smart Aviation HQ and are always here to assist our clients during such challenging times,” said Mark Hawkins Managing Director – Smart Aviation.
Our experienced team are available 24/7 and treat each request uniquely, providing the best bespoke solution. Contact Smart Aviation today.
Here at Smart, we have continued to remain busy during the COVID-19 pandemic informing our Group Charter clients how they can safely travel when the restrictions are lifted.
As things begin to return to a ‘new normal’ we have been advising our clients on the positives of using slightly larger aircraft at private terminals where possible. This enables a high standard of deep cleaning pre-flight, and excellent PPE equipment for any staff and passengers. If required, a meal box can be left on the seat for each passenger therefore limiting personal contact and reassuring both our clients and their groups of how we consider their safety of the highest importance.
Moving forward, we aim to adapt as the pandemic eases offering our clients the best service and information available as it comes in.
Should you want to see how we can help moving forward on your next group charter please contact us today!
Travel is better with friends. Charter a private jet with us and we’ll make sure your furry ones are taken care of.
Arranging a flight with pets on-board is something that happens as a matter of course for us these days. As long as your pet’s documents and vaccinations are up to date, we can arrange everything for you. Putting your mind at rest and your pet’s welfare and comfort top of our agenda.
Each country has their own rules and regulations for entering with an animal, all of which can be managed by us. Contact us for your quote to charter a private jet with your pets.
FAQs – travelling on a private aircraft with your pet(s).
Can my dog or cat travel alone?
Yes. If you’re not travelling with your animal(s) we can arrange for a suitable flight attendant to travel with them – most operators insist on this.
Can my pet travel in the cabin?
Yes, absolutely. Your pet’s comfort will be attended to just like a human passenger.
Do I need extra time to check in for my flight with my pet?
No. A benefit of chartering a private jet is that the check-in time, with or without pets, is minimal. It’s generally 15 – 20 minutes before departure time.
Do I need to put my pet in a pet carrier or crate for the journey?
This is usually at the discretion of the private jet operator – something else we will assist you with when chartering a private jet. We’ll work with you to find an operator that best meets the requirements of you and your pet.
Contact us today for your personalised quote to travel with (or without) your pet.
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.
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”.
The 2020 fashion season takes-off this February with New York Fashion Week (6-12 February), London Fashion Week (14-18 February) and Milan Fashion Week (18-24 February), all easily accessible by Smart Aviation’s global private jet charter service.
Celebrating 15 years in 2020, Smart Aviation provides a fully bespoke operation, accommodating all personal touches on the most desired executive jets. Taking all the stress out of travel, including baggage allowances, branded cabins, in-flight dining and luxury airport transfers, fashionistas can travel to these must-attend fashion events in style.
New York Fashion week
The Big Apple is the first to take to the catwalk unveiling the first of the autumn/winter 2020 collections and gives the ultimate preview at the in-vogue trends for the season ahead. The schedule is packed full of runway shows from influential designers, many focusing on body positivity and racial diversity. Shows not to be missed include Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Vera Wang.
London Fashion week
Credited last year for strong political messages concerning Brexit and for embracing London’s eclectic street style, London Fashion week is considered one of the most highly anticipated and progressive shows of the year. With presentations from key brands including Underage, Osman, Aspinal of London and Paul Costelloe, as well as a show by the ‘Queen-V’ of British fashion, Victoria Beckham, celebrities will flock to London to observe and celebrate the launch of the latest collections.
Milan Fashion week
With an established fashion history based on the high-level of Italian quality and designs, Milan is considered one of the most important global fashion capitals. Prada, Peter Pilotti, Gucci, N21, Jil Sander, Max Mara Bottega Veneta, Marni and Versace will all hosts shows at Milan Fashion Week this year.
Smart Aviation Managing Director Mark Hawkins said: “We have been transporting high-profile clients to fashion events around the world for the last 15-years. These shows are an annual highlight for many of our clients, both for personal and business travel. We pride ourselves on offering an efficient, seamless and comfortable service whilst managing even the most complex travel itineraries”.
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 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.”
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.
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.
Christmas Charter Flights – the perfect celebration
Get the party started with a dedicated aircraft charter flight for your team.
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.
You can buy time; travel to your exact schedule
You dictate when the plane departs and where from
Luxurious cabins that far exceed those offered by commercial airlines
Bespoke menus and refreshments
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
Getting you closer to where you need to be – worldwide
Smart Aviation recently received a challenging brief for some complex charters in the USA. We knew the perfect person to handle it. Step forward Smart Aviation Managing Director Mark Hawkins.
Mark founded the company in 2005 and takes pride in the industry knowledge and expertise he has gained during his career. Each request gets unique treatment at Smart Aviation. This operation was a challenge – we had an itinerary that wouldn’t work on schedule airlines. Our client was a major European corporation who wanted to take 100 of its team across the USA over several days.
The arrangements took a few months of preparation here in the UK. One key aspect of the schedule was to be able to try and secure an arrival at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. We worked together with our partners for this trip, US based Carrier Swift Air. This partnership meant we could arrange with the US military to allow our passengers to land. This mean our clients were much closer to their final destination.
The charter started in Chicago. First stop on the itinerary was Twin Falls Idaho, before continuing on to New Mexico. After their site visits were complete, it was back to Chicago, where our clients connected with their scheduled flights back to Europe.
All preparations were made from our office in the UK. Although we are UK based, our reach is global and our duty of care didn’t end as soon as the first flight took off. Our operations team were on hand 24/7. We use industry leading systems to watch the progress of all our charters. Swift Air took excellent care of our clients and the client has given us great feedback.
“The benefits of having a close-knit team means channels of communication aren’t restricted. My team help and support one another and so all operations are handled proactively. I was working on this project around the clock for a few months, due to the time zone differences. This is an example of the Smart flexibility we provide,” said Mark Hawkins.
With over 200 years’ team experience in aviation, we have the knowledge and contacts to solve even the most challenging requests. This means not only do we get you the right aircraft, but also, to the right location.
Next time let Smart take you to where you really need to go.