While the overall trend for business aviation has not fully recovered since the peak of 2008, there are some notable emerging bright spots, delegates were told by BBGA ceo Marc Bailey at the 2015 Business and General Aviation Day (BGAD) at London Biggin Hill airport last month. The UK is ahead of this growth curve but in the political landscape there is still much to do.
Highlights include a growth of 10 per cent in the very light jet market, while business turboprop activity, led by the King Air, is back to 2009 flying levels. Piston-engined aircraft also saw a significant growth last year, according to WINGX Advance.
“Demand in the lower end of the market reflects a sector that is predominantly business led,” remarks Richard Koe, WINGX md. “Currently 50 per cent of all business activity in Europe is flown by light jets. Business turboprops account for 30 per cent of movements, although ultra-long range bizjet flying is up too; 12 per cent over last year. This summer the average number of passengers flying on these bigger jets was below capacity, averaging 2.5 passengers.”
It is the activity in this sector, the ultra-long range large cabin aircraft, which tends to confirm the perception of business aviation as an extravagance rather than business tool. “The view is especially prevalent among regulators and politicians and certain mainstream media,” says BBGA ceo Marc Bailey. “But we should not really have to defend ourselves.”
Koe agrees: “Our focus needs to be on making the UK a welcoming place to do business. Therefore we should be doing everything we can to encourage people to come here. The number of ultra-high net worth individuals is increasing at close to 10 per cent a year, so the industry should do more to appreciate its primary growth engine.”