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February 2018
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Matthew Savage is sales director for London Gatwick airport-based Smart Aviation

Q&A: 10 things you need to know about Matthew Savage

In the first of a new series we hear an individual view on the state of the ad hoc passenger air charter market from brokers around the world.

  1. Why did you become a broker of ad hoc passenger air charter? “I have been involved in charter sales for my entire career and, after 17 years working for airlines selling charter capacity, I moved across to charter broking. Working for an airline gave me a unique and fantastic aviation education but the opportunity to sell a wider range of aircraft, to a wider range of clients around the globe, was attractive to me. I also enjoy the ability to never turn down a request because there is always a solution to be found. This is a great reason to be a broker.”
  2. Where are you based, and why does that work for you? “Smart Aviation is based near London Gatwick airport and this area continues to be the global centre of the air charter industry with so many brokers located in the area. For me it means about an hour's commute to and from work, but this is a great opportunity to separate work and home life, and I have the added benefit of living by the sea.”
  3. Your stand-out operation? “I once arranged a private charter on a 757 to transport a priceless historic artefact, a small carpet, which was to be displayed at an exhibition at the British Museum. I have also arranged charters on behalf of many of the world's football teams and been lucky enough to meet some of my sporting idols. I've arranged charters to six of the seven continents, and hope to one day tick off Antarctica. My proudest moment was probably when I arranged several charters for sick children to Lapland to see Father Christmas. As you can imagine that was a very special experience.”
  4. Your favourite aircraft? “The Boeing 757; with its over- powered engines it can do absolutely everything from round- the-world flights to domestic hops. I remember being on the flight deck on an empty sector and we climbed like a rocket. But it was also very economical in its day. From a sales point of view it was a great aircraft and sadly nothing has come along, yet, that can do everything it could.”
  5. Favourite in-air dining menu? “For me it's simple; you cannot beat a good quality airline hot breakfast on an early start, but sadly hot meals in the air are becoming a thing of the past. For our clients, who can be demanding, it's all about attention to detail. One of my clients has a particular preference for a certain brand of mustard on his sand- wiches and I can find myself trying to track it down for him in far flung corners of the world.”
  6. If you were not a broker what other career path would you have followed? “I've never seriously considered having a career outside the aviation industry, but I'd have enjoyed being an English teacher. I love passing on knowledge to younger people and watching them develop.”
  7. What is the greatest risk to the ad hoc passenger air charter market? “I think the greatest threat is global instability and political upheaval. The market is still too sensitive to things like currency and fuel movements, and also we are yet to see what sort of effect Brexit will have on how and with whom we do business over the course of the next decade.”
  8. What is the next biggest change that this market will see? “Technology continues to be a hot topic and there are several 'disruptors' in the market at the moment that are trying to re-invent the broking process. I still feel that clients will need human intervention in a charter booking, whether that is visible or not, because there are so many variables to consider when arranging a charter. But I do think technology will continue to develop and the more traditional brokerages need to keep an eye on what is happening around them and move with the times.”
  9. Top tip for budding charter brokers “Aviation is a fun place to be and I'd still recommend it. The toughest part is getting your foot on the ladder. I would advise studying something relevant at school and college, do some aviation-related work experience, and find something to put on your CV that makes you stand out. Ask lots of questions and think big.”
  10. What might we be surprised to know about you? “This comes as no surprise to anyone who really knows me, but I can tell what type of aircraft is taking off or flying over just by the noise its engines make. I'm also extremely competitive, especially with music quizzes, and despite being a regular flyer I really hate turbulence.”


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Smart Aviation