European Business Aviation Association
BAN's World GazetteerBelgium
At the end of April, we were just a little apprehensive about this year's EBACE. Whilst exhibitor numbers in the halls were very good, with even a wait list, and the problem we had on the static display was accommo-dating all the aircraft rather than a shortage, delegate numbers were down about 20%. But there were indicators there could be a rush of last minute bookings and that is exactly what happened. So EBACE 2009 ended up being among the most highly attended since our first show in 2001, with just a fraction short of 11,000 attendees, making it almost as big as 2007 and bigger than 2006; not a bad result in the depth of the worst recession in
But numbers tell only half the tale and the best thing about EBACE 2009 was the generally positive vibes, with a widely held view that the show was much better than expected and, for at least one major vendor, even better than 2008. However, as in all things, timing is critical and we were fortunate that a number of indicators suggest EBACE may have coincided with the market bottoming out and perhaps a sign of better times to come.
Of course we did not see the plethora of orders we saw in 2008, but the good news is that used aircraft prices seem to have stabilised, and one or two customers are disappointed to have missed some good deals trying to be too smart on price. The number of "white tails" is also better under control now that realism has returned to the market place. And what about the booths in Geneva? Many of the larger stands were better even than those at SBAC and it was interesting to hear several OEMs saying that for them, Paris and Farnborough no longer warrant the high cost, hassle and noise, when EBACE is so much better a place to do business. And what a magnificent selection of aircraft
we had on static: some piston oldies, state-of-the-art new types from the Phenom, through to the Hawker 4000 (setting a new world record on its way to the show) and two Falcon 7Xs - with the very latest interiors, right up to the heavy iron. Moreover, despite the forecasts, apart from a couple of showers the weather was just perfect for viewing aircraft.
The information sessions were also a great success, boasting the highest number of attendees ever, especially on the first two days. With so much change on the horizon and so many threats to our long term business, there is plenty to talk about, and these sessions provided just the right opportunity to get direct contact with those driving the changes to tell them what we think. Perhaps most worrisome was the talk from DG Environment at the European Commission on ETS Monitoring Recording and Verification (MRV) requirements for our sector; indeed, the speaker's entrenched attitude can only be described as completely out of touch with reality.
Conversely, at senior level, the news was much more encouraging and it was great to hear both Daniel Calleja (Director of Air Transport at the European Commission) and David McMillan and his team at Eurocontrol show they fully understand the vital role played by business aviation in the European economy. Their remarks were particularly encouraging in respect of ETS, where both strongly support the use of Pagoda (the Eurocontrol carbon emission modelling tool) to the highest possible level compatible with its accuracy, rather than limiting it to 10 K tonnes as proposed by DG Environment. Indeed, it is at the political level where we are currently so much more fortunate than our US colleagues.
As a result of our hard work over the past three years, great progress has been made in getting the importance of business and general aviation recognised in Europe. First, in 2008, we had the Commission report (An Agenda for a Sustainable Future for general and business aviation) recognising our key role in increasing mobility, productivity and regional cohesion. Then in February we had the European Parliament saying much the
same, noting that general and business aviation complements the commercial airlines and provides specific social and economic benefits. It also noted that the sector is of "growing economic importance" as vividly illustrated in the recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers report highlighted at EBACE, showing that business aviation was worth some ?20bn to the European economy in 2007, around 0.2% of GDP and generating 164k jobs.
So all in all EBACE 2009 provided a great opportunity to regroup, re-energise and realise that, although things are very tough compared with 2008, they are still a great deal better than the first EBACE just nine short years ago, and the future is bright. So let's take heart from Geneva and remember the EBACE 2009 maxim: Business aviation - right tool for challenging times!
Brian Humphries, EBAA president