I’ve been in the aviation industry for 25 years in charter sales roles, working for two major airlines and another large broker prior to Smart Aviation. I spend my time running the Smart Aviation charter broking team, as well as personally arranging private jet flights for my clients. My clients can be the rich and famous, as well as those who prefer to stay out of the limelight – but all of them wish to travel privately, avoiding airport queues and travelling to small, convenient airports to their own personal schedule on their own private aircraft.
What is it that you do exactly?
It’s a cliché that each day is different but in aviation, as a 24 hour business, it’s still true. On the way into work I’m catching up on charter enquiries that have come into our 24 hour operations team overnight, as well as checking on the progress of any flights which may be departing for our clients early in the morning. Once I’ve reviewed plans for the day with the team, I will be dealing with enquiries from clients, finding private jets and helicopters worldwide for their requirements, which are usually last-minute and can also involve complex itineraries. It’s important to have a deep understanding of the complex nature of aircraft operations, as well as being able to find the perfect aircraft for the client. This involves working closely with aircraft operators, discussing requirements in-depth and understanding your market. I also manage our Sales and Marketing function, so I could spend the rest of the day calling prospective clients, networking or engaging with potential clients across all platforms including social media.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Showing clients how they can save money and more importantly, time, by travelling privately, is a real privilege. We will often will oversee a flight departure and watching a new client depart on time, on their private aircraft that you have arranged is always satisfying, as is receiving positive feedback at the end of each flight. I’ve been passionate about aviation since school and still love having the ability to send jet aircraft off across the globe on behalf of our clients.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
My favourite ‘home from home’ is the Ile de Re, just off the Western Coast of France. It’s a stunning island which feels cut off from rest if the world. Cycling everywhere, enjoying the incredible beaches in a totally relaxed atmosphere with the bonus of French cuisine make for an irresistible combination.
In the UK, I love The Swan at Lavenham. It’s a beautiful historic country hotel in Suffolk with a truly memorable restaurant and very individual rooms.
Finally for me, it has to be New York, my favourite city. I love the atmosphere and energy there. A helicopter trip over the Statue of Liberty remains one of my most memorable travel experiences ever.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
My most memorable dining experience to date was probably when I was escorting a special charter flight for sick children to Lapland, to see the real Father Christmas. We’d just had a fantastic time meeting Santa and his reindeer and having sleigh rides. When we headed back to the hotel for dinner we were served… reindeer – reindeer burgers, reindeer sausages (which were delicious) and reindeer stew. We told the children it was beef and they were fine!
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
We are fortunate to have several very well-known members of the sports and entertainment industry as clients – of course they don’t want us to tell you who they are. But I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of my biggest footballing heroes during the course of my work. Right now, we are very busy working with a number of world famous music artists and DJs who fly across the Mediterranean during the summer months. Of course we also get some very interesting requests from our clients for special arrangements they would like on board the aircraft – but unfortunately I’m sworn to secrecy!
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Top of my wish list would definitely be trekking in Nepal. I’d love to be in the Himalayas during the climbing season. The whole history and challenge of climbing Everest has always been a fascination for me and I would love to experience the atmosphere and scenery during the Spring.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Matthew. I had the pleasure of visiting Nepal at the back end of last year and am sure you will not be disappointed!
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