The 14th annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE), to be staged once again at its established home at Switzerland’s Geneva International Airport (May 20 to 22), is on track for further growth. The event, which is second in stature only to NBAA’s annual convention in the U.S., is set to draw more than 320 exhibitors (up from 294 last year), and with only half of these companies hailing from Europe the show will once again have a distinctly global dimension, drawing participants from the newer markets of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the Americas.
More than 50 aircraft will pack the show’s static display, conveniently located for immediate access from Geneva’s PalExpo convention center. Some 12,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the three-day show (www.ebace.aero), which is jointly organized by NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA)
Three day-long seminars will take place before the show opens. On Monday, May 19, EBACE organizers are offering a safety workshop, an international aircraft transactions seminar and a cabin crew/flight attendants conference designed to enhance the value for attendees.
“These three pre-convention seminars are designed to augment the education program taking place during EBACE 2014,” explained Mike Nichols, NBAA vice president of operational excellence and professional development. “Each of the meetings looks at a specific area of interest and offers an opportunity to delve more deeply into the subjects.”
The physical layout of the EBACE site is changing this year. PalExpo’s long Hall 7 will be used only to provide access to the static park, served by a footbridge moved much closer to the main halls. The main halls now encompass the area the helicopters usually occupy, so these aircraft will now be inside.
According to EBAA chief executive Fabio Gamba, the most pressing issues on the convention agenda are illegal flights and the effect of new regulations. “After carefully defining ‘illegal flights’ and clarifying the scope of the definition, we learned that 14 percent of all flights are illegal. This translates into a €1.2 billion [$1.6 billion] loss in revenue to the economy,” said Gamba.
EBAA is working with the European Commission to understand what needs to be done, while preferring a preventive approach to a repressive one. “To succeed, we have to tackle this issue at its root: Why do people fly illegally? We believe that more often than not, it is because the legislative environment is crafted in a way that does not allow one to operate [commercially] in a sustainable way,” Gamba told AIN. “When an operator feels its hands are tied and it has no other choice, it cheats or, in this case, operates an illegal flight. For example, look at runway use. Commercial flights can use only 60 percent of the runway, whereas non-commercial flights have access to 100 percent. Thus, there is an incentive to go non-commercial, which is obviously illegal if the nature of the flight implies remuneration.”
Europe’s controversial emissions trading scheme also will be high on the EBACE agenda. “As it currently stands, the ETS is a failure,” said Gamba. “What was originally intended to be a simple and fair tool was transformed into a discriminatory and complex regulation incapable of delivering its intended benefits. That being said, the fact is that operators in Europe will have to cope with this regulation.”
Meanwhile, Gamba is concerned that the Single European Sky initiative is not being implemented as originally planned so that business aviation’s “plans [are not being] incorporated in the Sesar Joint Undertaking’s Master Plan in a way we feel comfortable with.”