Flying privately has many advantages, including the ability to create a unique itinerary, notes Patrick Margetson-Rushmore. However, you’ll need to keep a firm handle on the flight plan and itinerary where multiple destinations are involved to reap the benefits. Here’s how…
Usually, the trips arranged by LEA are reasonably straightforward, linking destination A with B and back again. Sometimes we are involved in journeys which involve multi-destination stops, however. These trips have to be managed and planned with intricate detail, involving many members of the team.
Let me highlight with one of the more recent trips managed; a remarkable three-week tour of south-east Asia for an aircraft-owner client. The client left the UK from Bristol Airport aboard their Bombardier Challenger 300 visiting many glamorous and historic destinations, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar) and the Maldives.
As well as being a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ for the owner’s family and friends, the trip also had a serious purpose with the group conducting research for a charitable trust. The aircraft was flown by Captain Kostas Mathioudakis and First Officer Martin Porter, and the flight schedule was managed by the operations team, led by Leigh Westwood.
In managing the trip, Leigh and his team needed to consider the elements that are encountered in all planning activity, from the airport transfers and check-in procedures of the different destinations, to the food and drink requirements on-board (menus have to be adapted to the food available locally).
However, in managing the trip to destinations we do not normally serve, we had to address additional issues which need to be addressed in international multi-destination trip planning. These included:
During pre-planning, our operations team had to ensure everyone travelling had the correct visa, inoculations and travelling permissions for each leg of the journey.
The safety and security of our clients is paramount. Certain international airspaces had to be avoided where geopolitical tension and issues could have been a problem.
Allowance for diversions was also of vital importance. Whilst we were lucky on this particular trip and didn’t need to divert, you should always plan for a diversion based on the permits in place for the flights.
Some of the smaller airfields in south-east Asia were unknown to us in the sense that it was the first time we had visited them. We had to investigate the facilities in advance to ensure we could easily re-stock, re-fuel and be aware of the nearest facility for maintenance assistance if required.
Not many of the destinations had FBOs. At these locations, we contracted local agents or representatives to liaise with the crew, meet the aircraft and make sure it was secure when unattended.
Catering for the flight could only be planned in advance to a certain extent. Whilst we could provide standard bar stock and snacks, we had to make sure we knew where to source fresh food at each destination so we could restock the aircraft.
Value in Planning
Organizing this trip for our client was an exciting and memorable challenge, reinforcing three principles which add value to an operation.
From a passenger’s point of view, all the work goes on in the background to ensure everything is running smoothly and to their schedule. Make sure your passengers have everything they could possibly need for hassle-free, relaxing travel.