New Leaders for European Business Aviation Lobby

 - October 4, 2007, 11:26 AM

At the end of this month, Brian Humphries will take over as chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), succeeding Fernand Francois, who is retiring after 12 years in the post. Humphries, who has been EBAA chairman since 1996, will retire from his day job as managing director of Shell Aircraft, the international flight department of the Royal Dutch Shell energy group. Humphries will work largely from his home in southern England, but is expected to spend about four days per month at the EBAA headquarters in Brussels.

Dr. Rudolfo Baviera, chairman and CEO of Italian executive charter and aircraft management company Eurofly Service, will take over as the EBAA chairman at the end of this month. The EBAA board has also elected Abelag Aviation deputy director general Hervé Laitat its new treasurer.

But changes at the EBAA aren’t the end to changes in the leadership of the European business aviation lobby. The UK’s former Business Aircraft Users Association (BAUA) and the former General Aviation Manufacturers and Traders Association (GAMTA) have completed their merger to form the new British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA). GAMTA chief executive Mark Wilson will lead the group from its headquarters near Aylesbury; BAUA chief executive John Batty will oversee the group’s business aviation activities from a satellite office at Farnborough.

BBGA has about 160 member companies, including leading UK corporate flight departments, executive charter firms and general aviation operations such as flying schools. It is a member of EBAA, marking a change from the BAUA’s historical semi-detachment from the industry’s pan-European lobby. Like NBAA, BBGA includes operators, manufacturers and service providers among its members, but observers have remarked that the new body is in fact more like a cross between NBAA and GAMA.

Finally, Humphries has also taken over the chairmanship of the British Helicopter Advisory Board (BHAB) from Lord Glenarthur. The BHAB’s chief executive is Dick Whidborne. Before joining Shell, Humphries was a helicopter pilot with Britain’s Royal Air Force. London-based Shell Aircraft’s new managing director is Bob Sheffield, who has previously been head of the company’s advisory service.

Francois led EBAA since 1992 and played a key role in expanding the group. One of his primary achievements was forging a partnership with NBAA to launch the very successful annual European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva. He will continue as president of Business Aviation Real Tool, the Belgium-based, bimonthly magazine he founded before becoming chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association.