Q&A with Production Air Charter's Michael Platts-Martin

"Having strong relationships with the local authorities and working with trusted partners plays a huge role in navigating these obstacles with a positive outcome."

By Sponsored Content 25 May 2023

Q&A with Production Air Charter's Michael Platts-Martin
Cr: Production Air Charter

Production Air Charter is the leading aviation air charter supplier to the Film and TV industry. With headquarters located in London and a global network of trusted airline partners covering every continent ensuring all productions have access to a vast network of aircraft options, including helicopters, private jets and group aircraft charters. 

We spoke with Michael Platts-Martin about the day to day challenges and triumphs of working in this field.

Can you guide me through the process of a client securing a charter flight? What are the questions you ask of them in order to secure the flight?  

Luckily it starts off very simply with just the initial information on flight dates, route, amount of passengers and equipment information with all our quotes being complimentary. 

This allows us to begin sourcing an aircraft and providing anywhere from 10-20 aircraft quotes from a variety of airlines to present an in depth quote to the studio. 

Once they select an option with our guidance and the charter is confirmed,  we begin tailoring the entire process to best suit the specific needs of the film production as they have many moving ‘pieces’ that the flight fits around and studios often have extremely strict requirements on safety and insurance.

We then organise, oversee and manage everything from airport to airport. Airport slots, airport handling, VIP services, VIP catering, equipment carnet and customs and the list goes on. 

Have there been any particularly challenging productions, and how did you overcome those challenges?

Most flights are pre-planned well in advance and with meticulous detail but as a charter flight relies on a long chain of companies from the airline. the airport, all the way through to catering companies common challenges can sometimes occur but can quickly be resolved with experience and trust in the companies we work with. 

Due to the dynamic nature of film productions if there are delays in filming or a cast/crew member falling ill this can have a domino effect that may affect the flight.

These challenges can prove particularly prevalent in regions like the Middle East or Morocco where flight permits and permissions take a few days to a week to get approved. However, having strong relationships with the local authorities and working with trusted partners plays a huge role in navigating these obstacles with a positive outcome.

A lot of my work is under NDA.

Production Air Charter

What is the most misunderstood part of your line of work, both by professionals within the industry and the general public? 

We would personally say the amount of actual charter flights film productions use. They are very cost conscious so 98%+ of production flying is using regular commercial flights. The charter flight is really only used when you have a large crew and no space left on the commercial flight or regular flights do not operate on the required routing or when crew are travelling for a few months so they require 2-3 hold bags each or when they also need to fly with a lot of filming equipment along with passengers which helps to avoid an expensive cargo flight.

So the flight volume is nowhere near as high as people might think as it’s only when a charter flight is an absolute necessity is when we are called upon. 

How do you see charter flights evolving as virtual production becomes more popular and a focus on the environmental impacts of flying becomes more prevalent? 

We also anticipate  a lot more virtual set usage in the future but we also personally believe there will always be a specialised requirement to charter VIP cast along with large crew movements with equipment to move between locations.

Production Air Charter

From a film financial standpoint, countries with popular remote filming locations will also continue to provide generous incentives for productions to film in their country as they bring a huge benefit to local communities along with a large amount of local jobs.

The important topic around sustainability is gathering more and more momentum and rightly so and which we fully support as a member of Sustainable Travel International.

Efforts to improve flying sustainably is constantly evolving every day much like with all aspects of sustainability on productions and as technology quickly advances by improving fuel and flying sustainably and efficiency, this can only be a real positive for everyone.  

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