Take flight: 365 Aviation

Chris Tofts, chief executive officer of 365 Aviation explains the efficiency and advantages of jet charter over jet clubs, how he helped the best dressed at the Oscars and how to deal with last-minute and unusual requests

Motoring 9 Nov 2018

What are the advantages of chartering a private jet? Especially in terms of locations you can fly to?

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, chartering a private jet has numerous advantages. Firstly, from a pleasure perspective, 365 Aviation flies to some of the world’s most remote destinations, providing privileged access to undiscovered havens. Hoanib Valley is one of Namibia’s most remote and wild environments, meaning the only way to get there is directly by private plane to the camp. Another example is The North Island, in the Seychelles, a private island situated 30 kilometres from Mahé. The island is an exclusive and contemporary tropical hideaway offering the ultimate luxury, only accessible by private air travel.

When it comes to chartering a private jet for business purposes, the benefits of being able to avoid long delays and unnecessary waiting times are paramount for those on a tight working schedule, with little time to spare. We often have clients hold their board meetings on flights, which can improve the efficiency of their day enormously. The flexibility of choosing your own schedule allows for multiple trips to be made in one day, which is not possible when flying commercially. This may mean your day can start with a meeting in the City at 8am, on to Frankfurt for a meeting at 1.30pm, followed by an evening event in Madrid.

365 Aviation recently commissioned a piece of independent research that explored the lost time spent travelling to, from, and within airports. The research partner, Censuswide, polled more than 2,000 HNW individuals and found that, on average, travellers spend over three and a half hours in airports pre- and post-flight. Add on the average time travelling to and from the airport (2.76 hours) and that’s a staggering 6.3 hours of wasted time per trip. And that’s before the flight itself, let alone any delays. The average C-Suite Executive’s hourly pay is up to £1,000, so when one considers lost productivity, suddenly the advantages of private aviation speak for themselves and private jet travel doesn’t seem like an extravagance at all, more like efficient planning.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve ever had?

It is very hard to pinpoint one particular answer on the most unusual request we have received at 365 Aviation. We offer a bespoke service meaning that no request is too big, small or challenging. Important events, particularly those that attract a lot of celebrities, tend to be when we deal with the most unusual and logistically challenging demands. New York Fashion Week, for example, saw us fly a jewellery case with a bodyguard handcuffed to it, such was the value of the items inside. During the Oscars we were asked by European design houses to fly dresses to award-nominated actresses in LA via private jet. The dresses were flown in specially-designed airtight boxes, often with the design houses’ own fitters on board too as no one else is allowed to work on them.

We’ve also had clients request for their pets to fly with them, we’ve flown the latest iPhones to Budapest on the day they were released, and we’ve transported guns to Scotland for the start of the grouse shooting season. We can never predict what we will be asked to do for our clients.

What’s the most unusual destination you’ve flown to?

One of the most unusual trips we have done is when we flew someone to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. It was an extremely short trip for humanitarian purposes due to the chaotic state of the country. Our philanthropic client wanted to spend the day with people on the ground, and we were pleased we could be a part of this.

And where are the most common destinations you fly to from London?

When we fly from London our most common destination is Nice, with Cannes and Toulon second and third respectively. These areas attract many HNWIs for both business and leisure. Europe is an incredibly popular destination throughout the summer, and many of our clients regularly fly to and from the South of France, Balearics, Greek islands, the Italian coast then back to London.

What are the main differences between winter and summer charters?

As with every travel company, winter and summer brings different bookings, and travel schedules. In the summer months, we see a lot of European bookings, whereas in the winter we have an increase in long-haul flights for those seeking winter sun. Big events during the summer, including the Cannes Film Festival, Monaco Yacht Show, and London Fashion Week add to the high number of HNWIs flying short haul to events on the social scene, for one to two days at a time.

365 Aviation receives a high level of bookings over the winter months from seasoned skiers who understand that private jet travel allows them to touch down closer to the mountain and ski for longer. For example, it’s possible to fly from London to your chalet in St Moritz or Verbier in under three hours. Our clients are often experienced skiers who appreciate as much time on the slopes as possible, and we’ve even arranged heli-skiing in Russia.

You can avoid long transfers, and you normally have unlimited baggage restrictions. What’s more, there’s no need to check in luggage or wait for it once you have landed. We can even arrange helicopter charters from the airport, further maximising that precious powder time.

What sets you apart from other jet charter services?

The customer service you receive when you make a private charter booking with 365 Aviation makes us stand out from the crowd. You will be assigned one broker, who will then be your single point of contact throughout the booking process. This person will be a handpicked expert who can talk you through everything and answer any questions and concerns. Should you wish to book again, you will be referred to the same broker, who will remember your specific needs.

I have a very experienced and dedicated team and we all share the same core values: to provide the best service with attention to detail. When a client contacts us to say thank you for a great flight and that they are looking forward to flying with us again, it gives us all a sense of satisfaction that we have helped the client to perform at their best.

Do you deal with a lot of last-minute requests and if so, how do you manage to stay agile?

It is the nature of our business to deal with many last-minute requests. We always have one member of the team on hand 24/7 to deal with requests in a timely manner. The record time from flight request to take off is just three hours. We wouldn’t recommend you leave it that late before booking, but rest assured if you need to, we can do it.

You’ve written about the many advantages of a jet charter such as 365 over a jet club, but what would you say is the number one reason charter brokers are a better option?

Unless you are one of the very privileged few who can own a private jet, your only options for flying privately are private jet clubs, or using a private jet charter service.

In today’s sharing economy, it’s tempting to view private jet clubs as the future, but for those looking for an enjoyable and reliable service and a truly luxurious experience, working with a charter broker is still the safest option, for a variety of reasons.

Most private jet clubs have a membership fee to join, however if you charter an aircraft you pay no upfront fees, you simply pay as you go. Some private jet clubs also have set routes and times, whereas when you charter a jet, you choose your own schedule, as well as having the freedom to choose which airport you wish to depart from.

At 365 Aviation, we believe the benefits of luxury travel should allow you freedom and flexibility with your travel preferences. Using a private jet charter broker is a truly bespoke experience with the option to fly from any airport and to any destination, the opportunity to choose an aircraft to suit your budget and requirements, and to have the flight itinerary match your schedule, as opposed to vice versa.

Can you tell us a bit about your fleet and what sets it apart?

We have access to over 4,000 aircraft, so excuse the pun but the sky’s the limit. It really is down to what our clients are looking for. We could have a client who has a £4k budget and wants to fly from London to Paris. Then we’d be looking at a very small light jet or turbo prop aircraft. We have other clients who want to travel trans-Atlantic / trans-Pacific and in those cases we start looking at the ultra-long-range aircraft that can perform those types of flights.

Do you have a favourite jet in the fleet and what makes it special?

That’s a tough one, but my personal favourite would have to be the Global 6000. The cabin comfortably caters for 10 people. It’s incredibly quiet and its performance and range is one of the best in class, meaning it can take you almost anywhere in the world. A close second is the Citation XLS, which is a smaller aircraft but is great for short and medium-length trips, has great luggage capacity and is ideal for summer or winter escapes with the family.

Do you have any advice for someone chartering a jet for the first time?

We think it is really important when booking a jet for the first time to choose a charter broker who knows exactly what you require on your trip. This comes from experience, and knowledge of how to achieve the ultimate customer satisfaction. At 365 Aviation, from the time you make your initial enquiry through to the end of our journey your dedicated broker will be on hand to make the journey and process as seamless as possible, and work closely with you.