European Business Aviation Association
BAN's World GazetteerBelgium
I mentioned in my last column that presentations at EBACE by the Teal Group and Eurocontrol forecast a prolonged, if initially erratic, recovery in the European market, with a return to 2007 activity levels expected by 2013.
Well, this seems to be being borne out by the latest traffic figures for May, showing a 6.7 per cent rise in business aviation traffic. The flat April figures were misleading because of the ash cloud, which caused a 35 per cent drop in business aviation traffic during the worst part of the crisis that started on 15th April. Incidentally, because of our sector's ability to fly flexible routings, this was a much smaller drop than that suffered by the airlines which saw reductions of over 50 per cent.
While ash continued to reduce traffic on some days in May, the impact was much less because of the new airspace management methods agreed by all member states with Eurocontrol and the European Commission.
So, with things looking up, the work we are doing with the Commission to retain fair access for business aviation in the face of growing pressure at the regional airports from low cost carriers becomes all the more important. To this end, we have been encouraged by their apparent willingness to build on last year's resolution from the European Parliament that "business aviation complements ....commercial airlines and provides specific social and economic benefits such as increasing the mobility of citizens, the productivity of business and regional cohesions....and is of growing economic benefit."
Moreover, we seek no more than to maintain the 'status quo' and retain slots for business aviation at airports where we have become well established, but where continued access is threatened by increasing congestion through the activities of the low costs carriers. However, we will undoubtedly face a struggle to have our position politically accepted at the European Parliament and by some national ministries.
Meanwhile, as part of the ongoing review of slot regulation, the Commission will soon appoint a consultant to study the issues that need revision. Business aviation related matters will be only part of a large and very contentious number of other points that need resolution. However, we shall be fully involved both in the web-based consultation, which will take place during the summer, and in the hearing that will follow in October, where all stakeholders, including individual operators, will be invited to assist in finding solutions. The consultant's report should be delivered to the Commission in January 2011, leading to it proposing a revised draft regulation on slots by June 2011. The adoption of this draft will take place by the co-decision process involving both the European Parliament and the Council of Member States, and this could take up to two years before it is published in the EU official journal.
Other measures that can help our sector include increasing flexibility at regional and secondary airports to allow rules to be interpreted locally so adapted mechanisms for the sector can be created. This already happens at some European airports. There is also a need to improve the coordinators' role to give them better tools to manage our needs. So we shall be busy over the coming weeks in working sessions with Commission staff to explain all the technical points of our position and jointly develop these concepts.
By Brian Humphries, president European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).