For 60 years, our team of aviation professionals have gone above and beyond to create bespoke charter experiences. No matter the destination or the size of the group, our Group Charter experts are always on hand 24/7 to assist with all your charter requirements. Meet some of the people delivering extraordinary flight experiences to you.
In this article, we are delighted to highlight Dean Tugwell, Senior Key Account Manager at Air Partner, who joined our Group Charter team back in 2011, and this year celebrates his 10th anniversary. Having always enjoyed travelling and experiencing new cultures, Dean knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the aviation industry, as it would allow him to be able to integrate his love of travel into his work-life too. We asked Dean to tell us more about his time working in aviation and Air Partner, what challenges the last year has meant for charter broking and share his advice for anyone looking to charter for the first time.
Q. What do you enjoy most about working in aircraft charter?
A. One of the most enjoyable parts of my role is working directly with the client from initial enquiry through to the end flight, taking care of every detail and being able to guide them through every step of the process. Being there through the whole operation allows you to build strong relationships with clients and operators. It is always really rewarding when the charter is completed, and you know you have been an integral part of the success of their event.
Q. During your time spent working in aviation, what changes have you seen within Air Partner?
A. I have been lucky enough to be part of seeing the expansion of Air Partner and its service offerings over the past 10 years. It has grown from a traditional aircraft brokerage into the world-leading aviation services group that it is today. From our charter division offering tailored charter solutions including Group Charter, Private Jets, Freight and other Specialist Services, to our Safety and Security division, including Redline, Baines Simmons and Wildlife Hazard Management, who through consulting, research and training support the aviation and transport sectors. As a world-leading aviation services group, with a vast international client base, it's great to be part of an extraordinary team, delivering flight solutions globally.
Q. What challenges has the coronavirus pandemic meant for aircraft charter?
A. Some of the biggest challenges we have faced during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been the changeable travel restrictions imposed by countries, sometimes at a moment’s notice. To ensure flights continued without delays, we worked closely with relevant governments to obtain special permissions and permits for particular routes in order to operate flights.
While a lot of commercial aircraft have been grounded, the demand for airport operations to continue at the same rate as pre-pandemic levels has also declined. This has meant a lot of airports have scaled back on operations and resources, resulting in restricted airport opening times. These changes have meant meticulous planning of flights to ensure that the operations run seamlessly.
Throughout the pandemic, the safety of both passengers and the operating crew has remained our top priority. We have worked closely with our Safety and Security division who have provided us with the most up to date processes for ensuring safe travel throughout Covid-19. We have strict safety measures in place across all our flights, from deep cleaning of the aircraft to providing PPE, including facemasks, gloves and hand sanitiser on flights.
Q. Tell us about your first charter.
A. My first charter was a Loganair, Saab 340. The charter transported a group of golfers, and their equipment from Glasgow in Scotland, onto Benbecula, and Campbeltown before returning to Glasgow.
Q. What is your most memorable/and or challenging charter to date?
A. Throughout my ten years working at Air Partner, I have been lucky to be involved with some memorable, and at times challenging charters. Some of my most memorable charters have been delivering emergency flights, including in 2013, when the Ebola outbreak began. Throughout the crisis, we operated multiple aid flights between the UK and Freetown, Sierra Leone to help provide the affected regions with vital aid supplies.
In 2017, we operated the first-ever commercial flight to St Helena, which is a notoriously difficult place to land aircraft, due to wind shear issues and the length of runway available which means that only certain types of aircraft can fly there. But we were able to source a suitable aircraft which met all the necessary requirements.
The past year, however, during the coronavirus pandemic, has certainly provided some of the most memorable, and challenging charters in my career to date. When the initial outbreak of Covid-19 occurred in Wuhan, China, we were quick to respond and arranged two Boeing 747-400 charter flights to evacuate over 300 British and EU nationals out of Wuhan and safely back to the UK.
The most challenging charter during the pandemic was the repatriation flight of UK and Irish nationals who had become stranded onboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama in Japan. Security screening of all passengers and their baggage had to occur in Tokyo before they could board the flight back to the UK, but with no security available, Redline, part of Air Partner's Safety & Security division and one of the world’s leading aviation security companies, had to mobilise its own security experts and they were deployed to Tokyo, along with the necessary scanning equipment.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone looking to charter for the first time?
A. The best advice I can give to someone looking to charter for the first time would be to make sure that you use a reputable broker with the necessary infrastructure and experience. Smaller, less established brokers sometimes don’t always have the same processes and internal compliance procedures in place for the operators that they use, compared to a more reputable company like Air Partner. By booking with a well-regarded and established company, you can ensure added peace of mind that every detail of your charter is taken care of, with all necessary safety protocols met. Air Partner has 60 years of experience, and with a global support function, we can ensure our customers are provided with the highest level of service.
Q. What is your favourite aircraft and why?
A. One of my favourite aircraft is the Boeing 757. This single-aisle twin-engine aircraft is suitable for short, medium and long haul flights. This aircraft type is available in many variations of configuration, from all economy, to split-configuration and all business class.