Organizers: Labace a Success
The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (Labace) has not only matured this year but has become a financial cornerstone for the organizing Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral (Abag, General Aviation Association of Brazil), according to one of the show's founders, OceanAir Táxi Aéreo marketing and sales director Jose Eduardo Brandão. Brandão was speaking at the seventh event, held annually in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he also noted that Labace is growing into an international event. This year, he said, "I have seen customers from Argentina, Colombia and Chile." Brandão also pointed out that Labace has to develop in that direction because "for those exhibiting…the show is too much of an investment for it to remain solely a Brazilian event." He explained also that income from the show is putting Abag in a financial position to make itself and its members heard by the public and by the government as the voice of business aviation. Labace 2010, held from August 12 t 15, drew a record 14,000 visitors, 500 more than last year, and there were 56 aircraft on the static display line and 150 exhibitors in two halls. Speaking at the opening general session, Abag president Francisco Lyra pointed out that business aviation carries the men and women who are the investors and economic drivers who generate growth. This is the reason, he said, for ABAG's new slogan, "Where general aviation lands, the economy takes off." Guest speaker and NBAA president Ed Bolen was equally emphatic in his defense of business aviation. He described business aviation as a "road" connecting the world. Bolen drew applause when he said that by building three kilometers of highway, it will carry you three kilometers. "But if you build three kilometers of runway, you can go anywhere in the world." According to Lyra, this is an idea that Abag is pushing hard through its government contacts in Brazil, where the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro. The aviation infrastructure in Brazil will require major upgrades before those major events, he pointed out. Part of that improvement should be the creation of a new general aviation airport within 70 kilometers of downtown São Paulo, he believes. Abag has already identified three possible locations and has begun seeking private investors in the U.S. and Europe to support the idea. Brazil is now the third largest market for business aviation, and is the most rapidly growing economy in Latin America. And while Abag agrees with most of the government's efforts to improve the aviation infrastructure, he emphasized, "We want to be part of it." Meanwhile, supporters of Labace have one real concern about the show's future. The airport management, Infraero, is in negotiations to lease the portion of Congonhas Airport that is the current venue for Labace. Lyra acknowledges that any new resident is unlikely to be willing to shut down its operations for the period of time necessary to put on the show. But he also points out that negotiations are unlikely to proceed with any speed and next year's show will likely occupy the same spot at Congonhas Airport. The show is scheduled for August 11 to 13.