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Special focus - Shows: Buyers emerge from the shadows as the leading air shows get back to business as usual
Business and corporate aviation conventions and shows in Europe, the Middle East and North America are confirming upward trends that indicate a gradual recovery in business levels.

Business and corporate aviation conventions and shows in Europe, the Middle East and North America are confirming upward trends that indicate a gradual recovery in business levels.

The latest grounds for cautious optimism crystallised at the sixth Business & General Aviation Day hosted by Marshall Business Aviation at Cambridge airport and organised by EBAN, which exhibitor Matthew Day of Hayward Aviation feels delivered a good profile of visitors, with genuine influence.

Michael Hampton, md of Capital Air Services which is working to expand its fleet of aircraft under management, reports that helicopter charter demand had been "surprisingly brisk" in the run-up to this year's BGAD. "We are optimistic that there are also good prospects in the fixed-wing sector for management and related charter," he says. The optimism was confirmed by the company's Capt John Hill and Capt Paul Lees, managing pilot. Hill says that negotiations to add aircraft under management were proceeding positively.

Visiting pilot Steve Munro was pleased with the event, saying he used the opportunity to make new contacts within the aviation industry.

David McRobert, group md of PremiAir, says that there is good potential for expanding managed fleets for both fixed and rotary aircraft. "We want to add jet aircraft under management and extend our client base and believe the next couple of years will bring good opportunities to do this," he says.

Synergy md Capt Glen Heavens and marketing director Jane Thompson, Skydrift's Andrew Lee, Flair Jet's Danielle Stoney, Hangar8's Tamara Smart, Md Air's Nigel Jones-Blackett and PrivateFly's Carol Cork were among others who confirmed a good rise in demand in the run-up to BGAD.

Following the show, Carol Cork says: "It was a great event, a very positive experience for the PrivateFly team with a great line-up of aircraft."

MEBA optimism

Similar cautious optimism permeates the run-up to shows including MEBA and NBAA. "The last running of MEBA in November 2008 attracted some 250 exhibitors from 30 countries and over 5,500 visitors, closing with more than US$1.5 billion worth of deals made," says Alison Weller, md of organisers F&E Aerospace.

Despite the global economic recession she is confident that MEBA will achieve a 40 per cent increase in participation.

Weller admits: "The industry was no doubt affected by the worldwide economic downturn, putting a brake on business aircraft sales. However, signs are that the world economy is at the start of its upturn and over the next two years business aviation will again be considered a vital business tool for corporates who need to get swiftly to where the deals are being made. MEBA is coming at the right time as I predict we'll be seeing quite a number of companies open up their order books as they plan for a full return to business."

She continues: "MEBA's counter-parts in other regions - NBAA in Atlanta and EBACE in Geneva - are bigger, but their location can be inconvenient to travel to most of the time for busy decision-makers in the Middle East region."

MEBA, held on alternate years to the Dubai Airshow, is preparing to welcome a record number of visitors and exhibitors for three days from 7 December 2010.

Weller says: "Outside on the static park, more than 70 business aircraft will be displayed. We expect announcements of important orders to take place during the show. The static park will be lined by 30 double-storey hospitality chalets and more company pavilions than in previous shows, giving companies and their guests the privacy to negotiate deals and the chance to network among their peers."

MEBA attracts exhibitors from the US, Brazil, Hong Kong and Europe and Middle East aviation companies including Dubai World Central-Aviation City, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Saudi Arabia's MAZ Aviation, Lebanon's Executive Airport Services and Jordan's International Wings Group.

First-time exhibitors include Honeywell from the US, Egypt-based AN Aviation, Lebanon's Emerald Jet and Rizon Jet from Qatar, joining returning companies such as Sikorsky and the UAE's Al Jaber Aviation.

NBAA progress

Recent NBAA shows have been short on major announcements, but this year Bombardier plans to reveal details of an expansion of the Global aircraft family. The launch event will take place in the Bombardier Pavilion in the static display park on 18 October. Meanwhile, the NBAA has praised the easing of the red tape burden that affects private operators flying to the US from regions such as Europe and the Middle East. In the run-up to NBAA 2010 in Atlanta, the organisation says Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials have acted to eliminate a historically unpredictable and burdensome process for companies using business aviation to obtain international waivers for flights into the US.

NBAA president and ceo Ed Bolen says: "Federal security officials are in agreement that the move will reduce the administrative burden and costly travel delays for industry that have beset the waiver programme in recent years, while preserving stringent security protocols for US-bound flights. Companies across the world that rely on business aviation will welcome the announcement."

The TSA will now be conducting its security review by working with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to gather the data through CBP's Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (e-APIS). The e-APIS programme, it says, has proved relatively easy to use and highly effective in gathering information about an aircraft's owner, operator, passengers and intended destination.

Bolen says noteworthy work was done by the EBAA and its members who met with government officials on numerous occasions to provide real-world feedback to the agencies.

NBAA 2010 will pay tribute to business aviation's "historic airlift" that aided Haiti after its devastating earthquake. It has welcomed President Obama's plan to invest $50 billion in the nation's transportation system, including funding for aviation projects and the growing number of states that are supporting business aviation.

Avanti affinity

Yacht builder Benetti and business aircraft manufacturer Piaggio cemented and promoted their marketing alliance at the Monaco Yacht Show 2010. Benetti builds full custom motor yachts in steel and aluminium over 145ft while Piaggio Aero Industries' core product is the P.180 Avanti II. "Our client bases have a great deal of affinity and synergy," Piaggio says.

Airex showcase

Organisers of Istanbul's Airex 2010, which showcased aircraft including the G150 and the G450, say the thousands that attend the bi-annual event reflects the growing importance of business aviation in Turkey.