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Passengers... Sports charters ... Dancing on Ice... .. Four weddings and a shopping trip...
Executive charter - the tailor made solution... Hurricane Rescue Flights... AOG spares... Any job - large or small...
ACS flies an airport... Empty Sectors... 2017 and Beyond ...

Passengers...

Aircraft Chartering Services have completed our 30th year in business

Another successful year - The thoughts of the MD.

The festivities of the New Year are just behind us now and it is time to finalise Spring and Summer Planning, but still we look back on last year with good memories..

We had another busy festive season at Aircraft Chartering Services. Our 20 plus years experience of the Lapland Christmas tour market saw us transport around 8,500 passengers to the frozen North in search of Santa this year, which certainly kept us on our toes throughout December. And then we had another project over the New Year, involving a rescue mission for a music tour to the Middle East, which was in danger of cancelling due to problems with scheduled seats. We stepped in at short notice and arranged a charter for musicians which allowed the tour to go ahead, much to the relief of both promoters and musicians.

The last financial year has been busy for our Performing Arts division and once again Aircraft Chartering Services have been truly global.

We have arranged charters in Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East and Far East of Asia and even visited the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

We have arranged single charters and concert tours for passengers and freight around the globe, including full tours of North America for European Orchestras and tours of Europe for North and South American Orchestras. And it seemed everyone wanted to go to the Middle East and Asia.

I am often asked "why should I charter and why should I use Aircraft Chartering Services?" and I think that the answers to those questions can best be found in the examples below.

Why charter?

Recently we arranged for a Boeing 737 to fly an Orchestra on a 5 centre tour in Europe, with a concert each night in a different city. The beauty of a single charter aircraft staying "on tour" with the group is that the flights can be arranged to compliment the Orchestras needs, rather than the Orchestra having to fit around the aircraft timetable. The comfort and familiarity of taking the same aircraft with the same crew each day and at the time of their choosing was certainly a major factor in reducing the stress levels touring causes for musicians and management alike. In a case like this, as with many others, chartering proved to be the best solution for logistic and economic reasons, as well as the comfort of the passengers.

Why Aircraft Chartering Services?

The following illustrates why the use of an experienced and professional Company like ourselves can be invaluable.

One of my many leisure pursuits is fishing. I was involved in a club competition when I received a call from a long standing client who pays a retainer for our services and we give advice and source aircraft (without further charge) on more complicated projects. Our client explained that they had been asked about a project that was due to fly in South America less than 3 weeks later and would we cast a professional eye over the arrangements before they got involved. The offer on the table was from a travel agency in conjunction with a North American Air Broker and proposed a single aircraft to carry both passengers and instruments for the whole tour. As soon as we had the basic details, we knew immediately that the solution offered was a recipe for disaster as the aircraft would not be able to carry all of the instruments, which would mean that the Orchestra would not be able to perform.

So now we had a project that had been worked on by others for over 6 months and we were being asked to assist when the first flight was in 17 days time. I was asked for an opinion as to the likelihood of achieving success at such short notice and I voiced my concerns regarding aircraft supply and the problems of arranging diplomatic permits at short notice to operate 5th freedom flights in South America, despite the project ultimately being for a Government funded organisation. But we were confident we could assist and so our task was to research the market for a larger aircraft (Airbus A330 or larger) to replace the unsuitable Boeing B767-200 that had been offered. Our research produced the ideal solution, which was B777-200 which had recently come off long term lease and was between jobs. We encountered diplomatic problems on every sector within South America except between Santiago and Montevideo and regularly requested Government intervention to unlock sensitive situations. To what I think was unanimous surprise the whole tour completed with only minor delays, caused by the ad hoc nature of the project and the lack of set up time. Even Mother Nature assisted by keeping a Chilean volcanic ash cloud at bay, or at least elsewhere, whilst our aircraft flew. Countries visitied included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Uruguay and Venezuela. I cannot think of a better example of how a five minute phone call to someone who understands the complexities of transporting large groups and equipment has made the difference between a successful tour and a public fiasco.

Having personally been chartering aircraft (as an agent) for over 35 years, it is still refreshing to have more unusual charter flights that maintain my interest.

Although things have been tough for everyone in the last few years, we have still been profitable in every one of our 30 years of trading as Aircraft Chartering Services.

And going forward, we still have many more interesting projects to come into 2017 and beyond.

Mark Hugo

Managing Director

Sports charters.

The Olympics was of course the sporting highlight of last year with teams and fans from all over the world visiting Brazil for the Games.

Fantastic performances in the Euros from Wales and both sides of the Irish border was another highlight, as was the performance of the Icelanders. In the Champions League, Manchester City performed well reaching the semi-finals and of course they are in the knockout stage again this year, accompanied by Arsenal for at least one more round and of course we also have the Champions of England, Leicester City. Spurs join Manchester United in the Europa League, which offers a Champions League place to the winners, so perhaps we can expect a bit more success in this competition, as well as keeping the charter enquiries rolling in. And on the domestic front, we have the re-emergence of the mighty blues under Antonio Conte!

And we still have the ladies Rugby World Cup in Ireland to come, so we are expecting to continue to be busy into Summer  2017.

As ever, other high profile sporting event charters include those for the Horse Racing, Golf and Grand Prix seasons.

Four Weddings and a shopping trip...

Aircraft Chartering Services also provided charter flights for product launches, conferences, seminars and workshops for various clients including the motor trade and telecommunications companies.

However, not all of our charters were for business users and we also arranged charters for various special events, pilgrimages, birthday celebrations, weddings and even a shopping trip to the Christmas markets in Vienna.

 

 

Executive charter - the tailor made solution...

Recent security alerts, industrial action and general airline uncertainty as well as the increase in "low-cost" operations through all the major airports has triggered a greater demand for executive aircraft charter, due to the horrendous delays and cancellations that have been occurring on scheduled service routes. Many clients were able to keep valuable appointments, both in Europe and North America, by chartering executive aircraft to avoid the airport chaos that filled the television news programmes.

A perfect example of how this form of tailor-made charter can be used to great effect was a series of flights for a group of businessmen who had meetings in six cities in Europe in four days. With their sole-use charter aircraft, they were not only able to do this comfortably, they were even able to change their schedule and fit in an extra meeting at a seventh venue. We had a number of similar operations in the US, where clients arrived at "gateway" airports in the US from different cities in Europe. They then boarded executive jets and had several meetings across the United States over 2 or 3 days, often landing at small airfields that were perfectly placed for their clients’ offices, but not served by larger scheduled traffic.

One other notable event that typifies this branch of the industry was the charter of a large VIP aircraft to transport executives and journalists to a keel laying ceremony in Italy.

 

 

Hurricane Rescue Flights...

The hurricane season in the Caribbean and on the US Gulf Coast is always a difficult time for airlines across America and Europe.

We have in the past assisted many airlines in finding spare capacity for rescue flights during the hurricane season. This year is expected to be no different and we are likely to move both passengers and fresh aircrew around the US and Caribbean.

We have repatriated tourists from Florida, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Antigua, Bahamas and various other Caribbean islands to Europe, Canada and USA.

We have also on numerous occasions relocated tourists from a variety of Caribbean islands to other islands, to Mexico or to the USA.

These flights are nearly always last minute decision as the severity and path of the hurricanes are very difficult to predict.

UNUSUAL AND INTERESTING FLIGHTS Unus

Over the years we have arranged many unusual charters for various clients ranging from Europe-wide product launches for the Motor trade to incentive and familiarisation trips to new holiday complexes and cruise trips but there are some contracts which do stick out as unusual. A few of these are listed below, but the possibilities for new charter destinations and ideas are almost endless.

 

Dancing on ice...

 

A memorable charter contract was to take 250 lucky prizewinners on a trip to the Ice Hotel in the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The winners were from all over the world and they gathered in Stockholm to be flown up to the frozen North on two charter aircraft for an all-night party, returning back to Stockholm the next morning. The entertainment was provided when we flew in a chart-topping act from Vienna whom were on a day off during their European tour. We even had a Tour Manager in place in Vienna on tour with an Orchestra to manage this VIP flight and the whole event was filmed for television.

 
 

 

Freight...

It has been a busy year for our freight division and our musical instrument traffic expertise has been much in demand, with full Symphony Orchestra loads being moved worldwide and many charters in Europe and the US, as well as some more unusual loads as you will see.

AOG spares

Our freight team has been approached on several occasions in the past year to transport aircraft spares to grounded aircraft. Obviously, the longer an aircraft is grounded, the more the operator has to pay for passenger welfare, replacement flights etc. so speed is of the essence to prevent delays from becoming a very costly business. We have moved engineers and aircraft parts all over the world, ranging from small spares and software to complete engines and even an aircraft rudder at over 10metres long.

2 examples of these flights are below

2 examples of these flight

 

 

This requirement was to take a B757 engine on a cradle
(5 x 2.75 x 2.80 meters x 9,600 kgs) to Porto Santo in the Azores.

On this occasion the priority was speed over cost due to the consequences to the operating programme. The load was swallowed by an Antonov 124 (a massive Russian aircraft) and was on the way to the Azores within 24 hours of the first call.

B757 Engine on low-loader
Engine change being carried out

With a little more time available to us for a schedule service airline, we arranged a charter with a B747 Freighter (for another B757 engine), which we diverted from Northern Europe to Madrid to collect an engine and fly to Larnaca.

This was the Carriers first visit with their B747 freighter to Madrid and the operation was performed to the highest standards, with a great cooperation from the management team who worked over the weekend to set up the contract with us.

Any job - large...

As well as moving aircraft engines (which is becoming almost commonplace) we recently received an enquiry to move some engine spares from Europe for a ship that was in dock in the Caribbean Sea. Obviously every day a ship spends in dock means a loss of operating revenue, so chartering an aircraft made sound economic sense, especially as the load consisted of several oversized pieces, as well as smaller but very heavy pieces that would be difficult to accommodate on scheduled services. For this we secured the services of an Antonov 12 freighter, which has a capacity of around 90 cubic meters, to deliver the vital parts in less than 24 hours from collection
AN12 cargo aircraft - click for full size image

Or small...

This operation went so well that our client came back to us 3 days later with another request for the same vessel, only this time it was for 20 small pieces of electronic equipment with a total load of less than 400 kgs. This time we were able to use much smaller aircraft, a BAe 125 jet, which would usually seat 8 passengers and time from collection to delivery was a little over 12 hours.

ACS flies an airport...

Well at least the glass for one! This request was to move around 64 tonnes of glass from the United Arab Emirates (where they have enough sand to make as much glass as they like) to Central Africa for a new airport terminal that was nearing completion. This time we used an MD11 freighter to ensure that the goods were delivered promptly so that the terminal was completed on time.

Awesome

Another operation of note occurred recently when a US Orchestra, a client of ours for over 20 years, encountered problems on the roads. When their truck broke down on the West Coast 36 hours before a concert on the East Coast, they knew who to call. With our extensive worldwide database, our Duty Officer was able to research the possibilities for charter overnight and fix the solution the next morning so that the instruments could be delivered to San Francisco airport and flown to New York in time for the concert. When we performed a similar rescue operation for the Orchestra in Europe in 1999 (this time it was road closures due to snowfall) they called us the "Maestro's of Chartering" This time they had only one word for us - "Awesome"

Empty Sectors and Off Line Capacity...

We regularly update our web site with aircraft capacity that is already under contract to Aircraft Chartering Services. This has several benefits to our existing and prospective clients. Where we have aircraft operating 3 or 4 flights over several dates, the opportunity to release capacity from airports where aircraft are not normally available may offer your flight programme a financial benefit.

On many of our projects, aircraft are only loaded in one direction and matching an empty flight to your flight requirements may again offer a benefit.

On our Empty Sectors page you can find a selection of empty sectors available through Aircraft Chartering Services, as well as off-station opportunities.

2017 and Beyond...

Despite the fact that there is continued uncertainty in all market places, we have already secured many forward contracts this year, although we still expect 2017 to be challenging.

We are a financially secure Company with no borrowing and no debt, so despite the recent turmoil in the travel and financial markets, we are expecting continued profitability in this our 31st year of trading and on into the future. In fact, completed contracts in our last financial year reflected increased revenue against the year before, so hopefully the worst is behind us now.

Our main concern is still with airlines. There were many failures in the last 5 years and in the current financial climate, we sadly expect more to fail. Our major worry with airlines is centred on payments of our client's money. 99% of large aircraft charter flights are prepaid, often involving a deposit payment and sometimes the balance will be payable as much as 21 days in advance. This may be fine in the case of a major National carrier, but not necessarily so comfortable in the case of a purely charter airline or recent start-up operators. Whilst many are in a stable condition with good financial backing, others are sadly running short of funds with little chance of re-financing in the current conditions. We always try to give our clients guidance in respect of the best aircraft for the job, based not only on price and operational issues, but also current market factors as well.

Aircraft Chartering Services have a strong International client base from corporate to leisure travel. We look on all our clients as committed partners in business and constantly seek methods by which we can further develop these relationships. Our commitments to excellence, in quality and service, speak for themselves.

We hope that 2017 might represent the chance to add your organisation to those of our other business partners. Please do not hesitate to contact Aircraft Chartering Services if you have any projects with which we may be able to assist.

Passengers... Sports charters ... Dancing on Ice... .. Four weddings and a shopping trip...
Executive charter - the tailor made solution... Hurricane Rescue Flights... AOG spares... Any job - large or small...
ACS flies an airport... Empty Sectors... 2017 and Beyond ... Back to top ...

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