Headquartered at London Oxford Airport and established only last year, flight and trip management company Travion has secured an exclusive flight management services agreement with The Aviation Factory, as the latter’s exclusive service provider for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on 14 June.
Including operators in Prague and the UAE, Travion’s experienced personnel nurture particular regional expertise and Sales and Marketing Director Andrea Jilkova says this provides a real advantage when planning flights into Russia. “Many providers are offering support for flights to the World Cup, but Travion offers substantial, proven experience in the airline charter business. All our flight managers worked for major airlines, in dispatch and on the ramp as station managers, so they’re used to the irregularities of the airline business.
“In addition, our in-depth knowledge of Russia and its culture means we’re able to relay information to our clients almost instantly, without delays or waiting for responses from our suppliers. We know the suppliers face-to-face, we know what to expect from them and how they differ from one another. We strongly believe in the concept of supervision of local supervisors.”
Conducting business in Russia can be tricky compared to Europe or North America, but Jilkova says the mix of cultures and backgrounds among the Travion team equips them to overcome the challenges. “Russia is a little different to Europe and North America, in fact to the rest of the world, but Slavic people understand it. Russian families faced many challenges under communism and resources very often had to be combined for them to survive. This created a culture where extended family and trusted close friendships are highly valued, and that’s reflected in business.
“Russian people need to trust you, they need face-to-face contact and you need to understand their background. It also helps to speak their language, especially if you have a problem on the ground. Through face-to-face interaction, Travion has built long-term relationships with local supervisors and we have several Slavic people on board, including native Russian speakers.”
World Cup Workload
With offices in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain, The Aviation Factory is a leading European charter broker. Jilkova reports: “They have a very fresh, relaxed and innovative approach to business. They arrange everything from charters for large groups, through customised flight services to private jets – all with a smile!”
The World Cup contract is a major win for Travion as it continues to build its own business, but also promises to stretch even Travion’s expert team, with a spike in workload and potential infrastructure difficulties in Russia. “The majority of bookings prior to the competition have been to pursue wider business opportunities, with the football a bonus. The fans start booking their flights once they know which teams are progressing from the group phase to the semi-finals and finals. Overall, we’re expecting predominantly widebody aircraft flying larger groups of people,” Jilkova says.
“Many Russian airports have already serviced larger events, including the Olympic Games, and are ready for the World Cup, which won’t be on the same scale. However, ATC restrictions will most certainly cause delays. We’re expecting stiff regulations and all flights will be subject to CTOT [Calculated Take-Off Time]. We strongly recommend that all operators strictly adhere to assigned airport slots. There will be parking restrictions at all airports and invitation letters from the authorities, or the importance of the passengers, will be among the criteria that play important roles in obtaining parking slots.
“We’ve made arrangements at all the host city airports: Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov on Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi and Volgograd. Our experience suggests the smaller airports are less challenging than the larger facilities – they try much harder to get things done in hopes of winning more traffic.”
Back in its Oxford and Prague offices, the multinational Travion team is united by a passion for aviation, but what about football? Will national loyalties create a degree of friendly rivalry in the offices? “There is a wide range of national footballing loyalty across Travion; in fact, our operations director plays indoor football every Monday! We expect a little friendly rivalry and we don’t see anything wrong with a bit of healthy competition in the office.”
Finally, has the Travion team picked up any top tips for tournament winners as it tackles fans’ flying requirements? “We have a tip, but we’re keeping it to ourselves. We’ve placed a bet and we don’t want to share the winnings…”