Aircraft Charter Department - 10 May 2015
Timing is everything in our job. From being in the right place, at the right time to service a new customer - to locating an aircraft that wouldn’t usually be available in a particular destination. Timing is an element that is in the background of most things we do.
Following an unprecedented week of activity on the desks, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the activity from the previous week.
What caused this unpreceded week? Another natural phenomenon, the weather. Part of our team's job is not just the fixing of charters on behalf of our clients; it’s managing the whole process from the first enquiry right through to successful completion of the flight. Ensuring the client is kept up to date with regular communications is vital especially when there are issues that disrupt the best laid plans.
Because Plan A doesn't always turnout...
The weather is an element that is out of our control but can affect everything connected to the charter, which means that managing this process can be one of the most challenging parts of our job.
There are a number of things that need to come together to get the flight back on track. It is vital to ensure that the one constant – the broker, is able to make sure all of these parts come together! Our part is perhaps the most important. Last week we faced a weather issue on one of our charters which meant we had to co-ordinate a reschedule that would not only cause the least amount of inconvenience to our passengers, but also involve the confirmation from a number of parties before the reschedule could be finalised.
This started with the airline, making sure that the forecasted weather was within the operating limits of the aircraft. This is the first port of call as dispatching an aircraft to a remote location when the weather is out of limits could cause an even bigger issue. Once this is confirmed, we then have to check that the aircraft is actually available to accommodate the delay - this is where established relationships are key. Working with an airline to move their schedule around to enable an aircraft to operate the proposed timings with minimal delay – we are always aware that in a force majeure situation, there is no obligation for the airline to incur costs to free up an aircraft in order to offer the earliest possible schedule.
In this instance, the airline was willing to alter their schedule which was gratefully received. Once this hurdle is overcome, we then have to ensure that airport slots are available at the times we want, that there are no night curfews in place, that hotel accommodation was available at origin and destination (not easy when you have over 100 passengers and it’s a bank holiday weekend!), that the destination airport can handle the aircraft at the new times, that in-flight catering can be arranged and delivered in time, and that any freight can be built onto the aircraft pallets in time for the new schedule. Any break in this chain and we are back to square one! Once the jigsaw is complete you then hope that it all hangs together and the flight launches so you can finally leave the office, or get some sleep!
And all this happened in a week where we also handled the response to the earthquake in Nepal, requests for aircraft charter from both Premiership and Champions League football teams, dispatching a government flight requiring the most minute attention to detail, securing an aircraft for a program of flights for a car launch, and the signing of a contract for a series of flights on behalf of a tour operator. Unlike the weather, there is one thing that you can guarantee in this job… that next week will be completely different!