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WORDS JANE STANBURY


Gania Mahmoud, an executive assistant at an investment bank that uses private jets, says: “With private aviation, you have the flexibility to choose the time of departure and return, in contrast to commercial flights.” Adam Twidell, chief executive of digital charter platform PrivateFly, confirms the trend: “We have seen a growth in bookings from business travellers over the past 12 months. The time from airport arrival to aircraft departure is often as short as 15 minutes.”


OFFICE IN THE SKY As well as time savings, continuous productivity is also cited as an advantage – private jets usually offer wifi from take-off to landing, effectively turning the aircraft into an office in the sky. Most private jets also have video conferencing installed but, according to an international travel manager for a London-based private equity firm who wished to remain anonymous, this does not replace in-person meetings. “Our executives travel for face-to-face meetings. It’s a traditional approach to business that our team says you can’t beat. The expense of private charter, from a commercial perspective, is worth it.”


Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturers are paying more attention to creating environments that better support wellbeing. Bombardier Aviation, for example, has introduced a Dynamic Daylight System that helps synchronise passengers’ circadian body rhythms to combat jet lag. Meanwhile, On Air Dining, an in-flight catering company, has created menus to suit 18 specific dietary requirements including vegan, halal and gluten-free menus as standard.


WHERE TO START For those unfamiliar with chartering business aviation, it can seem a confusing process. “It’s not quite like searching on the web to find the next commercial flight that suits your needs,” warns Bottomley. “Unlike commercial operations, the itinerary is built around the executives’ needs. Flights can depart from any number of smaller airports, leaving at a nominated time and waiting at the destination for the passenger’s next leg. Any delay will be dictated by the passengers, not the airport or airline. Should a meeting overrun, private aviation supports the changing schedule.” For travel arrangers, there are two ways to charter aircraft: work directly with an operator, which requires a good basic understanding of the industry, or book through a broker. For the latter, BACA – The Air Charter


Association is a useful starting point, as it lists brokers which, as members, adhere to the organisation’s best practice guidelines. Brokers can also hold Argus or Wyvern status – industry approvals that indicate the business has been independently audited for high-quality operational standards. Brokers will be fully cognisant with what is required. Part of their role is to liaise with the aircraft operator to ensure regulations are met and steer a path through the complexities of compliance, if necessary. Operators and owners who offer illegal charter flights, sometimes referred to as grey charter, do not adhere to the same standards and are, therefore, unlikely to be as safe as their legal counterparts. It’s also possible they may not be insured for the flights they undertake, by either the operator’s policy or their own. If in doubt, booking using a broker is always recommended.


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 JULY/AUGUST 65


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