Operating business air charter services can be expensive, with large amounts of investment, administration, training and maintenance required by legislation. But if everybody works to the same high standards, on a level playing field, then experience shows that a competitive and vibrant charter industry can continue to develop.
Those companies that have access to modern aircraft, the systems for efficient operations and top quality people, can be highly successful while still maintaining the highest standards of safety and proberty for passengers.
If only it were so simple. There are still regular reports from around Europe of so-called 'grey market' charter operations, lacking an applicable air operator's certificate, the required insurances, or without the necessary traffic rights for the particular flight they intend to operate. Of course they can offer a lower price and the customer may be unaware of, or prepared to overlook, the niceties of proper compliance.
Air Partner has been advising its clients to always check AOCs, and welcomed the European Business Aviation Association's recent 'Is your flight legal?' campaign. But director David MacDonald believes the industry needs to do more to highlight and marginalise the pirates. "We do get frustrated that when suspicious flights are reported, authorities can rarely react in time before the aircraft has been dispatched," he says, while pointing to Russia as a particular problem area for unlicenced jets offered from Moscow to European destinations.
The EU member states and EASA report that they are aware of the issue, and that individual countries such as the Netherlands are already taking action locally. However, they find it difficult to identify illegal operations, and have asked for the EBAA's help in this regard.
Early next year the EBAA manager of technical affairs Belarmino Gonçalves Paradela will be given the opportunity to present its overview of the problem and possible solutions. For example, EASA has suggested a web-based public white list of non-EU operators allowed to fly commercially within Europe. And he is looking for more background information. If you know of unlicenced operations in your area then Gonçalves Paradela urges you to firstly report it to your local CAA, and then to advise the EBAA about the extent of the problem. Take a moment to drop an email to him at email@example.com. David Wright Editor