Business aviation in Europe has been around a while, but it still has some growing up to do, according to Fabio Gamba, new chief executive of EBAA. Gamba, a former airline lobbyist who joined the association less than a year ago, simply means that the time has come for the industry to have a clearer public profile and be less fragmented in its actions.
“[Business aviation] is probably the only sector of aviation where you feel maturity is not quite there yet,” Gamba commented. “The industry is not always listened to [by, for instance, regulators] and this is partly because it is under the radar screen and some companies prefer it this way. Business aviation needs to get its act together and not hide.”
Gamba also believes that a more open and direct approach by the industry could improve its commercial performance. “There is no direct link between demand and the offer,” he added. “Why aren’t [business aircraft] flights shown on the CRS [airline computer reservation system]? We need to rethink the niche we’re in and be more visible to the man on the street and to the legislator. We could be [perceived] as more democratic through adopting new modes of business.”
In Gamba’s view the fragmented nature of business aviation has made it too easy for new market entrants to join the industry in the belief that they could readily share in the wealth being generated in the “magic” period prior to the financial crisis.
EBAA membership currently stands at just about 530 companies and it is attracting an average of 20 or 30 new members each year. “More people [in the industry] need to understand that [business aviation] is a defined sector and that this sector is at risk,” Gamba concluded. “They need to be members [of EBAA] and act as if they are part of a community rather than just being individual companies.”
EBAA turns 35 this year.