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Aircraft Charter for Orchestras

ACC Aviation knows the industry and the pressures of touring. We construct multi-leg tours for full orchestras, rock bands, solo artists, and entourage, as well as road crew – keeping international tours on schedule and on budget.

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Richard Smith

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With Covid-19 restrictions putting all music events on hold since March last year, it has been a very quiet year for the music industry. But as the world continues to slowly open again, performers, such as orchestras, are looking at private charter to coincide with their upcoming busy schedules. Outdoor only venues and indoor restrictions are gradually coming to an end and the live music industry is preparing for its anticipated resurgence.

The pandemic brought commercial aviation to a standstill, with operators being forced to reduce their route networks and making travel to underserved destinations nigh on impossible.

The rise in aircraft charter enquiries since late last year demonstrates that live music concerts are ready to make a safe comeback. And, while scheduled flights are returning, private air charter remains one of the safest, most efficient and reliable ways of travelling between certain countries at this moment in time.

Why orchestras are turning to aircraft charter

Many airlines have had to reduce flight schedules on more particular routes, such as those between much smaller locations across Europe and the United States. For orchestras to keep a busy concert schedule, they need to have access to locations in a timely manner and without frustration.

Orchestral tours require detailed logistical arrangement and organisation for them to run smoothly. It takes a lot of planning to gather many musicians in one place, along with their string of musical instruments, which have to be treated with the utmost care, as well as other equipment.


When moving orchestras, the consideration of the cargo capacity needed to carry a large amount of equipment safely and efficiently is essential. An orchestra consists of a large group of people and each of them will have their instruments when travelling – that could consist of up to 100 instruments on one flight alone. It might be that a larger aircraft is chosen to suit those needs, while the passengers may only take up a third of the plane. This is where aircraft charter becomes the best solution.

Depending on the airport and the amount of luggage at hand, a ground-service coordinator may be required to manage the loading and unloading of orchestra equipment. There will be crew available before and after a flight to ensure equipment is loaded and unloaded safely and efficiently.

The benefits

Like any elite performer, rest is key to ensure that musicians are able to perform at their best. Air charter provides tailored flight schedules, allowing orchestras to dictate their travel times. Direct, point-to-point routes and access to more conveniently located airports minimise ground transfers and allow touring groups to maximise downtime for their artists to recharge between performances. The seamless coordination of an aircraft charter is unmatched when it comes to working to a demanding schedule, allowing orchestras to travel to multiple shows with ease.

Travelling via commercial flights can be challenging for a touring orchestra. The space that an aircraft charter provides is a necessity for both passengers and their instruments, not to mention the current emphasis on duty of care to performers’ health and wellbeing.

With air charter, orchestras can make use of FBOs and private terminal facilities, reducing potential exposure, and have exclusive use of the aircraft, allowing them to maintain travel bubbles, effectively reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19.

How aircraft charter works for Orchestras

Musicians have a close bond with their instruments – it’s simply not an option to borrow or rent instruments while on tour – members of the orchestra will have played their individual instruments for years and picking up a new one isn’t something that could be done as easily as you might think. All instruments will be attuned to their particular weight, sound quality and even shape to create the unique sound you experience during an orchestra performance.

Therefore, every last piece of equipment, whether it be the smallest flute or the largest double bass, everything needs to travel with the orchestra – not forgetting the additional cargo of wardrobe, sheet music, music stands and the conductor’s equipment.

The transport of instruments begins as soon as a performance is finished. They are packed into their carry cases and then placed into larger, rectangular flight trunks with protection padding to fill the space around the cases. Smaller instruments such as violins will be placed carefully with other instruments of their size, whereas larger instruments will get their own travel trunk. The way instruments are packed is incredibly important – if positioned even slightly wrong, equipment could easily become damaged in transit.

The considerations when travelling as an orchestra are extensive, and even things such as temperature need careful consideration in order to keep equipment in prime condition. To avoid any damage, instruments can also be transported using climate-controlled cargo planes.

Bespoke flight programmes for music tours

ACC Aviation knows the industry and the pressures of touring. We construct multi-leg tours for full orchestras, rock bands, solo artists, and entourage, as well as road crew – keeping international tours on schedule and on budget.

We’re also available 24/7 to organise flexible flight itineraries and make last-minute changes to personnel or passenger lists.

Backline, entourage and personnel can vary between different legs of your tour. We understand that you need total flexibility when it comes to passengers and equipment, so we’ll take care of any changes – no matter how last minute they are.

Our experience in cargo charter gives our clients the confidence that instruments and equipment will be moved safely, and we work closely with tour managers and schedules to ensure your detailed plans are safe in our hands.

For more information or for a free, no-obligation quote, make an enquiry or speak with a member of our team on +44 (0)1737 232 230.

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