The French chapter of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA France) is preparing for a restructuring under the leadership of its new president, Serge Chevillard. Last October, he took over from Olivier de l’Estoile, who stepped down from the presidency of the organization six months before the end of his term.
Unlike de l’Estoile, who essentially ran EBAA France while on secondment from his position as an executive with Dassault Aviation, Chevillard has to split his attention with his full-time job as managing director of the French provincial airport of Pays d’Ancenis. “There are important things to do that need several people to do them,” he told EBACE Convention News. “With good cooperation from colleagues, time and the opportunity to restructure we can create something intelligent to advance the interests of the players on the French business aviation scene. I am the driving force for restructuring but I am not alone.”
To date, Chevillard has concentrated on enhancing EBAA France’s business airports committee which, he says, is one of the main foundations for the association’s new structure. The seven-member committee, established in September 2004, most recently met at the end of March.
“There is no special status for business aviation and neither France nor any other European country actually defines what it is,” said Chevillard, reflecting on the lobbying challenge facing EBAA and its airport members. “Present general aviation rules apply but are not adapted to the special circumstances of our activity. What we are seeking to do is to define something that is not obvious: an identity for business aviation airports.”
Ultimately, EBAA France wants to establish a formal set of criteria and a labeling system for airports. Later this year, as a first step, it is preparing to publish a charter that would establish requirements that airports of all sizes would have to meet to qualify as business aviation gateways.
In addition to Paris Le Bourget, the six founding airports represented on EBAA France’s business aviation airports committee were Cannes Mandelieu, Lyon Bron, Avignon in the south of France, Le Touquet in the northwest and Pays d’Ancenis in the west. They have since been joined by Le Castellet in the south of France. “We are not recruiting but the door is open for others to apply as long as they meet the basic requirements and, when it has been formulated, the aims of the charter,” said Chevillard.
He said one major issue is the uncertainty surrounding governance of the airports. Traditionally, they have belonged to the government, which granted 30- to 40-year operating concessions to local chambers of commerce.
At the end of the 1990s, concessions were renewed but only on a three- to five-year basis, bringing strong objections from large chambers of commerce. Under new law, the chambers of commerce running the eight busiest airports will be considered as service providers rather than concession holders. “This has created a mess,” complained Chevillard. “Who wants to operate airports in such uncertainty?”