With more people than ever flying privately, Craig Hough sits down with Falcona Private Jets owner and former Manchester City forward Adie Mike to discuss his thriving business
Tell us a little about the company and your role...
I decided to set up the company in 2011 after I completed a law degree. I knew someone who was looking after private jet charter flights for a few football players. The owner of that business decided not to continue so I decided to go on my own. Having a background in professional football some of my early clients were Premier League players, then the business started to grow from there. After a couple of years, I moved offices to the private jet terminal at Manchester Airport, which allows me to personally oversee each flight from Manchester.
What are some of the locations you to travel?
Most of our destinations are in Europe. During the summer months many private jet travellers fly off to Mallorca or Ibiza as many clients have second homes there. Other popular summer destinations include Faro, Nice and Mykonos. Business flights tend to be to Geneva, Amsterdam and Munich and these are all year round. I would say 65 per cent of our flights are for business.
I have noticed that more clients are attending big football matches, especially Manchester United and Manchester City, whether it’s in the Premier League or Champions League. This year we organised a flight for a party of 12 on a Challenger 605 to attend the World Cup final in Russia. Festivals such as Creamfields and Parklife attract the best DJs from around the world who will also charter aircraft.
How would you describe your clientele?
The majority of our clients are business owners, self-made entrepreneurs and large corporations who need to fly employees to meetings or shows. We also fly Premier League footballers, who either want to go on holiday, visit family back home or are attending commercial activities with their sponsors.
What are the main benefits that you offer to clients who want to fly by private jet?
The main benefit is time. Clients can arrive just 20 minutes prior to departure, without the hassle of queues and security lines. They travel in a private and secure environment, which is ideal if you’re travelling for business. No prying eyes. You can get more work done and be more productive en route to meetings. More of our clients are travelling with their pets as it’s a stress-free way for the owner and the pet to travel. We source pet-friendly aircraft from our database for charter flights. We also recently did a flight from Manchester to Bristol to pick up another passenger, then went on to Ibiza, so it’s possible to include a stop on the way to your final destination.
What airports do you fly from/to?
Private jets can access over 1,000 airports just in Europe, as they’re able to use smaller airports with shorter runways which commercial aircraft can’t. This allows our clients to arrive closer to their destinations, saving time. Flying private allows our clients to bypass the long check-ins as you’re pre-cleared prior to departure. Your luggage goes straight onto the aircraft and on your arrival, it follows you straight off the plane, into your waiting car.
Why charter a private jet over booking a first-class commercial flight?
You can relax in your own space, relax in comfortable leather chairs that swivel and recline for maximum comfort. Different aircraft have configurations such as three-seat divans or club configuration, which allow for face-to-face conversation. Seats can turn into comfortable beds for long haul flights.
What catering options do you have available?
From Nandos to a five-course gourmet menu. It’s entirely up to you. Generally, VIP catering on smaller aircraft is canapés, mixed fruit, sandwiches, with soft drinks, Champagne etc
How would you describe the service on-board?
On a larger aircraft, you will have a flight attendant on board who will serve the food and drinks and organise the catering to your preference. You can access the aircraft’s library of music and download films. You can also connect your iPhone or iPad to screens which is great for working en-route to meetings or keeping the children entertained.
For those of us who have yet to fly privately, what is the etiquette?
At most airports, you can drive right up to the plane and board your aircraft. Always let the lead passenger board the aircraft first and let them sit down, then you can take your seat after. Certain aircraft won’t allow red wine on board, especially if the aircraft is brand new or been refurbished. Others will charge a hefty fee for cleaning if the aircraft has not been looked after properly.
You can travel how you feel comfortable, for business flights the majority of our clients are smartly dressed. If you’re going on holiday there’s nothing wrong with travelling in shorts and t-shirts. Your aircraft, your style.
How far in advance do you need to book?
The great thing about flying private is that you can book a last-minute flight and be airborne in a couple of hours. We recently organised a business flight in under two hours after our client commercial flight had been overbooked. It was important they got to their shareholder’s meeting, hence the last minute charter flight. I recommend booking 6-8 weeks prior to departure. This allows us to find aircraft either at Manchester or close by. During the summer it’s important to book early as slots and parking at busy airports such as Ibiza and Mykonos, to secure your slots and aircraft.
Why Fly Private?
There are 10 x more airports available to private jets than scheduled airlines
20% of business aviation flights result in more than 5 hours of time saved compared to the commercial alternative.
25,280 European city pairs are directly connected with non-stop service exclusively by business aviation
Private jets fly empty 40% of the time
The average flight time by private jet to European cities is 1 hr 50 mins
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