Charter flights are an air transport service provided by a tour operator for determined groups of passengers, usually tourists travelling on all all-inclusive formula. They are often chartered by one or more tour operators for more or less set itineraries. Charter flights are not scheduled in advance and are often subject to restricted conditions of use: odd hours, non-refundable, non-exchangeable tickets and no specific reductions offered. Thus, they are special flights with a unique itinerary, which differs from regular airline companies. The planes are hired out to specialised companies or companies with available aircraft. The "hiring out" generally includes all of the in-flight personnel, the services and meals provided on board, the fuel, and all of the technical services.
Planes used for charter flights are often designed in a way that allows them to carry the most possible passengers, and first class seats are generally replaced by extra rows of economy class seats. Contrary to regular flights, charters are not scheduled in advance, which explains why departures are sometimes at odd hours. The most used charter companies are: Air Méditerranée, XL Airways, Aigle Azur...
If the flights correspond to customer needs, the company is sure to fill its seats on its aircraft. Even if the travel agent has no more seats available, the airline can sell tickets to potential flyers, provided there are still places that have not been filled.
Every destination is imaginable, but given the unpredictable character of the flights and the favourable price conditions, the Mediterranean Basin represents the core destination of charter flight activities. The most popular countries with the French are also those to which there are the greatest number of charter flights available: Tunisia, Morocco, Spain (the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Malaga), Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt... For more distant destinations, many tour operators offer long-haul services to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Kenya, Senegal, Thailand, etc.
Finally, concerning safety, charter companies are no different than regular ones. Above all, they are subject to the same safety imperatives as regular companies. Flying with a charter company doesn't mean flying on a plane in poor condition. On the contrary, tour operators who charter them are vigilant when it comes to respecting technical schedules.