Team Spotlight - Charley Celli, COO
Welcome to our first team spotlight, where we’ll be showcasing the incredible talent that makes our first-rate personalized air travel possible. We hope you enjoy this ongoing look at the commitment, professionalism, and care our colleagues bring to every aspect of your journey.
For this installment, we were delighted to sit down with Charley Celli, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Craft.
Welcome, Charley! We know how precious your time is as our COO, so thank you for agreeing to chat with us about your role!
As mentioned, you’re Chief Operating Officer here at Craft. That seems like a role that goes hand-in-hand with a life-long love of aviation. Is that true, and if so, where did it all start for you?
“You’re absolutely right! I’ve loved aviation from a very young age. I grew up in Southern California, which has always been seen as a kind of holy ground for aviation and engineering in general. So, almost inevitably, as a kid I loved aircraft of all kinds. I was also a huge F1 fan; not just watching events, but also learning about the vehicles, their engines and components, how they were maintained—it was all fascinating to me.
“I started my aviation career as a mechanic on the MD-80 production line at McDonnell Douglas. From there, I took on increasing responsibilities and was part of the management structure during its merger with Boeing in 1997. Over the course of my career, I’ve held senior positions with Gulfstream, General Dynamics, Jet Aviation, and others. Whether it’s the daily operations of our industry or the strategic work that underpins it, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing both and found it to be something I really enjoy.”
You’ve touched on your time with McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, and others—what was it about Craft that made it feel like the right step for you to take next?
“Craft has a customer-centric culture that directly speaks to me. We’re all about taking care of our guests and exceeding people’s expectations. What makes us different is that we understand the small things are actually big things. By taking this detail-oriented approach to personalizing our service, we provide an air travel experience that surprises and delights people. It’s something I find rewarding to be a part of.”
“Our CEO, Israel Slodowitz, has a clear and compelling vision for Craft that really cemented my decision to join the company. We are also in an exciting stage of our growth journey, and the opportunity to help mold and shape the business at this point is hugely appealing to me.”
Earlier, you mentioned that your role involves both the operational and strategic sides of Craft. What does a normal day look like for you?
“My primary responsibilities involve managing the availability and status of our fleet. This involves working alongside our Director of Maintenance to ensure our aircraft are available not only to complete pre-arranged journeys, but also to provide exceptional travel experiences for our guests at short notice. I’m also responsible for working with our pilot scheduling and dispatch teams to ensure all of our in-service aircraft are dispatched smoothly, on time, and as expected. All of our work is underpinned by a complete commitment to safety, compliance, and customer satisfaction.”
“Our focus on safety and compliance gives us a rock-solid foundation to deliver on the details. That means perfecting the service our guests have come to know us for, with incredible attention to detail and the agility needed to tailor their journey to their exact preferences. We learn, evolve, and improve our practices with every flight—almost like a human AI.”
Your role intersects with many of our departments, but who do you most often work alongside?
“I keep in constant contact with our sales team in order to ensure our fleet, crew, and pilots are available to meet demand. I also work alongside our HR department to manage the recruitment and retention of talent, which is vital to our continued growth. As mentioned, I also work daily with our Director of Maintenance to ensure our fleet is in prime condition and operating to our exacting specifications for safety and compliance.”
Could you name something you’re particularly proud of achieving here at Craft?
“I’m really pleased with the relationships we have developed with vendors who support the maintenance side of our operations. Through these positive partnerships and diligent internal work, we’ve been able to meet and even exceed our scheduled maintenance events, which has made a big difference to our ability to respond quickly and effectively to demand.”
What do you love most about working at Craft?
“Without a doubt, it’s the people I get to work with. We have incredibly passionate teams who embody a truly entrepreneurial spirit. There’s a clarity of purpose behind our decision making that allows us to make improvements quickly, which ultimately means a better experience for our guests.”
What are you excited about working on next?
“I never get tired of refining our processes to ensure we’re always working smarter and delivering better results. As our teams and capabilities continue to grow, I’m looking forward to maintaining this focus on performance.
“I’m also excited for us to continue our development into European and Asian markets, with a view to offering an incredible array of international destinations characterized by our unique approach to personalized travel. I also see a lot of potential for us to partner with some amazing organizations in the future, including the Masters and the FIA.”
Finally, we’d be remiss not to ask—what is your favorite aircraft?
“This is a hard one! I love the G550 and Challenger, both of which are available in our fleet. But I also can’t forget the Falcon—it’s such a beautiful aircraft!”
Charley, thanks again for your time.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for having me!”
We hope you enjoyed this entry in our ongoing showcase of the people who make Craft the first choice for personalized air travel. Keep a look out for further glimpses into the many disciplines that help make each Craft journey, unforgettable.