The final council meeting of 2019 for The Air Charter Association was a time to reflect on the major steps forward the association had made over the course of its 70th anniversary year; the most significant being the name change from the Baltic Air Charter Association to The Air Charter Association. The rebranding reflected its aim of becoming a truly international organisation for air charter companies and their associated partners.
A key issue of 2019 has been illegal charter flights, brought into sharp focus with the tragic consequences of the flight for Emiliano Sala and the disappearance of his aircraft enroute to Cardiff. The association has been proactive in recent months in campaigning to stop the practice of illegal charters, and can rightly claim that awareness of the issue has been raised significantly, thanks to the diligent work of CEO Dave Edwards and the council.
The Air Charter Association has always been a great believer in ensuring that members have the best opportunities to meet and network together, and the Air Charter Expo (ACE19) in September proved to be the perfect occasion for this, with an action packed one day event. More than 1,100 visitors gained access to a series of presentations, a busy array of booth exhibits and an excellent static display with more than 20 aircraft. Yet another fantastic achievement for the association during this year.
There were plenty of other opportunities for members and their guests to network: the Spring Lunch and Autumn Awards lunch broke records in terms of attendance; unique for 2019 was the association's 70th anniversary celebration; and there was also the annual and extremely popular networking reception at Mr Pickwick in Geneva on the evening of the first day of EBACE.
2019 also saw the exciting launch of its Individual Broker Qualification training programme. Level 1 resulted in a pass rate of 77 per cent, with 13 per cent achieving distinctions.
The Air Charter Association has been supporting aviation charity fly2help for the last two years and has just confirmed it will continue to do so for a third year, in 2020. The association has raised the highest ever amount for charity for the past two consecutive years, so this was an easy decision to make. Funds raised by members have enabled the charity to provide a greater number of Air Smiles Days for children and adults living in difficult or life limiting conditions, as well as additional Aim High Week, week-long skills advisory programmes that help young people learn about the different pathways into a career in aviation and aerospace.
Nick Weston, who became chairman of the association earlier in the year, summed up his first months in office by saying: ‘Looking back on 2019, it is staggering to see how much we have achieved this year. I would like to thank all those people who have contributed to making it such an outstanding and successful year for the association. However, we will not rest on our laurels and are already working on our strategy to ensure we can deliver even greater value, representation and assistance for our members and the industry throughout the coming year and beyond.”