Q&A: With Jon Cavalli, Commercial Jets - UK Trading Manager

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jon Cavalli is Air Partner’s Commercial Jets - UK Trading Manager. Jon joined the business in 2016 and has over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry. He leads a team of eight aviation professionals in our Group Charter team. The team have been working with a variety of different industries for over 50 years, providing clients with flights that exceed their expectations.

Whether you are looking to transport 20 passengers or 20,000, the team can assist in meeting your exact requirements, wherever you wish to fly to.

Here Jon tells us more about the team, popular trends and his thoughts for the year ahead.

Tell us about the group charter team?

The Group Charter team consists of a team of nine and combined we have over 56 years of experience within the industry. We have both Account Managers and Senior Account Managers in the team and many of whom have been with Air Partner for several years now.

On a day to day basis, the team manage flights for a wide range of clients across many different industries, ensuring all bookings are made to the exact requirements the client is looking for. We are in constant communication with our clients all the way through from the initial planning stage until after the flight has flown. We also work really closely with our Customer Operations team who are on-hand 24/7 and together we ensure that all flights go smoothly.

Additionally, we spend time meeting face to face with our clients, discussing their future requirements and we can also offer the services of a flight representative if the client requires this, to be on-hand every step of the way. This involves us assisting with check-in procedures, liaising with the crew on-board and being there to resolve any queries.

What were your highlights of 2018?

2018 was a busy and successful year for the sports industry. The FIFA World Cup in Russia was a particular highlight, which consisted of us organising both team and supporter flights from a number of different departure points globally. We also had a great year for our meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) industry with an increase in bookings year on year.

What’s been your favourite charter to organise recently and why?

We organised a series of charters from the Middle East to India on behalf of corporate client. Due to the nature of the region we were dealing with these can be a little more challenging to set up. However, thanks to our global reach and experience we were able to overcome these challenges and the flights operated smoothly, with positive feedback from the client. It always gives us a great sense of achievement once the flights have flown and all has gone well.

What is the range of aircraft you are able to book for clients?

We can arrange flights operating on a wide range of aircraft to meet the client’s requirements no matter what the industry or the destination. These range from small commuter aircraft such as Embraer 145, RJ85, which are popular with both small automotive groups and sports teams to large airliners such as Airbus A330, Boeing 767 for both European and long-haul travel.

What are the key considerations clients should take into account when booking group charter?

We guide our clients through the booking process and the following points will be discussed during this to ensure the flights meet with the client’s expectations.

  • Which airports to fly to and from - Group Charter opens up a range of airports and we can often use smaller airports as opposed to large, busier airports that would normally be used for scheduled services. This brings a range of benefits such as avoiding queues at security and accessing airports which are closer to the venue the client is flying to. Our Account Managers will be happy to advise on which airport would be the best for the client’s requirements. 
  • Are private terminals required? This allows big groups to have a discreet service at the airport, and is popular with clients such as sports teams. We have built up an extensive network of contacts at private terminals globally. This allows groups to experience a personal and hassle-free experience whilst travelling.
  • Dates, time of year and duration of the trip – Group Charter allows complete flexibility with flight schedules, so we can work with our clients’ requirements to book flights to fit in with their plans
  • Type of aircraft required - whether the client is looking for a normal economy cabin aircraft or VIP – we can arrange for an aircraft to meet the client’s expectations
  • Expected levels of service on board – we work closely with our clients to create a personalised on-board experience, tailoring everything from the catering to the on-board announcements
  • Branding on-board – through our ServicePlus programme we can elevate a client’s branding with a range of opportunities, from personalising the check-in screens to the in-flight entertainment.  
  • It’s not just Group Charter - we can also integrate scheduled flights if required (for example, delegates travelling from multiple destinations to one hub)

These are some examples of what our Account Managers discuss with a client through the planning process. The sooner a client can get in touch with us the better so we can assist with the plans. We like to think our clients think of us as an extension to their team.  

How can a client elevate their brand when flying with Air Partner?

We offer a variety of different options for clients to customise their travel experience. Through our ServicePlus programme and our dedicated Account Managers we work with our clients to meet their objectives. For a fully immersive experience, you could consider branding the exterior of the aircraft, as well as interior which could involve branding the headrest covers, television screens and placing branded items on the seats. The branded experience could also begin when the group arrives at the airport, we can arrange drinks and appetisers in the private lounge, which can be another great opportunity to showcase your brand before the group departs. The catering can be customised all the way through the journey with your choice of on-board options, and branding can also be reinforced at this stage with coasters, napkins – the possibilities are endless!

Which destinations do you think will be popular for events this year?                                                  

Over the course of last year, we have seen an increase in the range of different destinations being travelled to for meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE). I predict the range of different destinations will increase even further in 2019. We are also starting to see a trend towards long haul destinations becoming more popular as well – last year we saw an increase in flights to destinations such as Vietnam and Morocco. However, I think there will always be a demand towards key European destinations such as Rome, Paris and Milan.

How do you think Brexit will impact the group charter market?

With Air Partner being an international business with a number of offices across the European continent including France, Germany, Austria and Italy, we have close working relationships with our international offices with many common airline suppliers. We are in a good position to handle Brexit implications and be flexible with any changes we may or may not have to make. Our advice is to our clients is if you have any queries about the impact Brexit will have, then do speak to our team. For Air Partner, the customer relationship is about more than just arranging and delivering aircraft charters – it’s about working with our customers to advise, navigate and extend the benefit of our experience in handling any impacts that may affect their travel.

What trends do you predict will be popular for group charter in 2019?

I predict that 2019 will be another busy year for sport. The demand for pre-season tours also remains strong and we expect this to grow over the next year both in terms of number of teams taking part and in terms of distance travelled. We are seeing an increase in clubs chartering aircraft to a variety of training camps around Europe but also travelling further afield to destinations such as China and the Middle East. With the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan in November, we are expecting to see demand for supporters and corporates in both our Group Charter and travel departments. Looking further ahead, we are also expecting to see demand for the Olympics in Japan 2020. In other industries, we are also expecting to see an increase in groups travelling for MICE and automotive.

What makes Air Partner different?

We have over 50 years of experience in the market which has enabled us to build long standing relationships with the airlines that we work with and ensures you can make the most of your budget. We offer 24/7 support with our Customer Operations team who have decades of experience within the aviation industry, in-conjunction with the Group Charter team, they are on hand to ensure that every part of your flight runs smoothly. In addition, CharterPLUS also gives you guarantees, insurance cover and legal protection.

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