Flying in luxury

Up, Up and away: Simon Menzies of Pool Aviation
Up, Up and away: Simon Menzies of Pool Aviation
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A Lancashire executive jet company is now enjoying soaring popularity. DAVID NOWELL reports

Imagine the scene.

You are about fly out for an important business meeting and it’s time to leave for the airport.

There’s no need to hang around for up to two hours before departure time – your passport has been checked and cleared the previous day.

Arriving minutes before take-off, you enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the beautifully-furnished departure lounge before sauntering across the runway to board a private plane.

You settle into your luxurious leather seat for the journey, perhaps chatting to the pilots sitting only a few feet in front of you as you sip on a cool drink.

It sounds like a millionaire’s lifestyle, but more and more people are hiring private aircraft for business and special occasions.

Pool Aviation based at Blackpool Airport is the only private charter company in the North, and is enjoying ferrying around a host of customers from wealthy business people to famous sports stars.

At up to £3,700 per flying hour, it isn’t cheap.

But it’s quick, convenient and luxurious and can mean you landing relaxed in Luton Airport, for example, just 48 minutes after take-off.

Formed in 1973, Pool Aviation has been operating from Blackpool Airport ever since. Headed by Simon Menzies, the firm has weathered the storm of the recession and is enjoying providing private charter services to a wide range of clients.

It also provides a Fixed Base Operations service for aircraft flying into and out of the resort’s airport.

The RAF are regular users of the Landing and Handling services at Hangar 3 and amongst others, Pool has developed a good relationship with the various trainee fast-jet pilots, instructors and their Tucano aircraft from RAF Linton-on-Ouse near York.

During the summer months Pool is host to the RAF Display teams including the world renowned Red Arrows.

Pool’s Beachcraft Premier 1A six-seater planes have a range of around 850 miles, which covers most of Europe.

Demark, Finland and Geneva are all popular destinations. But the planes are also well used for domestic flights.

Marketing manager David Smith said: “It’s not a cheap experience but it is well worth the money in terms of the comfort and service and convenience. The cost comes down if you subscribe to one of our programmes.

“For a block of 10 hours it comes down to £2,900 a hour. The majority of our customers are successful private individuals, but we also cater for business people as well.

“It might sound expensive, but you can have a private business meeting on the plane and arrive quickly and easily.”

Embracing e-commerce has been a huge boost to Pool’s charter success. In recent months via online aviation industry portals, Pool Aviation has been able to promote the brand and services to the wider jet-using community and aviation brokers in particular.

Prospective customers can post quotation enquiries online which feed through to the team in the Operations office for quotation.

This simple system has seen a huge 520 per cent increase in inbound enquiries since registration in December.

David explained that passengers if already cleared could turn up at the airport only minutes before take-off if necessary.

He said: “We have the abilitiy to be flexible – if you are running late or are stuck on the motorway the plane will wait for you.”