With Europe’s economy facing another year of uncertainty, the 2011 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (Ebace) will open to a business aviation community that is increasingly impatient for signs of a lasting recovery. At face value, some indicators since last year’s event are encouraging, with traffic levels climbing in an intermittent way. But there is no getting away from the serious obstacles to renewed growth such as the dire condition of national economies in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
Nonetheless, in its 11th year, Ebace (May 17 to 19) looks set to resume its rallying role for the business aviation industry. European companies now view it as their main showcase for the year, and the event continues to attract more and exhibitors from North America and also from newer markets such as the Middle East, Russia and Asia.
The latest Business Aviation Outlook, published by Honeywell Aerospace last October, confirms the impression of a somewhat tentative recovery in Europe, with the continent’s business aviation market now seeming relatively mature by comparison with untapped regions farther east. Honeywell’s researchers found that aircraft purchase expectations in Europe over the next five years stood at 34 percent of the current fleet. This was generally below the expansion cycle around 2006 to 2008, but still ahead of the 25-percent levels recorded between 2001 and 2006.
According to Honeywell, Europe will account for 19 percent of demand for new bizjets over the next five years. Latin America, Asia and Africa/Middle East will collectively account for 23 percent and this rising demand is in part reflected in the increasingly intercontinental profile of the Ebace show.
Quite apart from fleet-replacement plans, Honeywell’s surveyors also found that European operators’ appetite to build their fleets has softened, albeit to a lesser extent. In the report published late last year, they identified the 2011-2013 time frame as a key period for purchase decisions and indicated that the scale of these new orders would be similar to those anticipated in North America.
Last year’s show, which many had expected to be markedly down in scale, drew a healthy flow of 11,174 trade visitors (representing an increase on 2009), 436 exhibitors and 65 aircraft. As of March 15, the number of exhibitors booked for the 2011 event stood at 385, which was ahead of where the count had been at the same time in 2010.
All the main business aircraft manufacturers are booked to exhibit in Ebace’s Geneva home and they are all expected to bring an extensive selection of their light, medium and large aircraft. These include the following OEMs: Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Daher-Socata, Dassault, Embraer, Hawker Beechcraft, Honda Aircraft, Gulfstream, Piaggio and Pilatus, as well as rotorcraft makers AgustaWestland and Eurocopter. Absent, as of press time, was Piper Aircraft.
The exhibitor list already runs to a Who’s Who of leading European business aviation operators and service providers. Notable among exhibitors from farther afield are the following: Air Works India, Abu Dhabi’s newly modernized Al Bateen Executive Airport, China’s Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering, Dalia Air of Morocco, Hadid, Jetex, Moonjet and United Aviation Services (all of the last four being flight planning and support groups based in the United Arab Emirates), Rizon Jet and Qatar Executive.
The annual Ebace show, which is due to remain in Geneva at least through 2015, is jointly organized by the European Business Aviation Association and NBAA. More information can be found at www.ebace.aero.