EBAA France, the French chapter of the European Business Aviation Association, is exhibiting at EBACE for the first time (Booth No. 1301) as part of a new public relations effort to support a struggling industry. The group is demanding the French government issue tax waivers to ease the financial pain of the industry.
During the association’s annual assembly in March, president Eric Aguettant said he wanted to take action to avoid EBAA France “counting its dead at year-end.” Two unidentified Le Bourget-based executive air charter operators already had filed for bankruptcy protection.
Aguettant wants the French government to bring forward the pending abolition of the taxe professionnelle corporate tax and make it effective for the air transport sector immediately. It is, in any case, due to be scrapped nationwide in 2010.
Moreover, EBAA France wants the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suspend the onset of its new rules for 2009-2010. While praising the agency for its certification work, Aguettant expressed discontent about the extension of its remit to cover areas such as aircraft operations and flight crew licensing. “We are asking the European Parliament to ensure the EASA is not unduly enlarging its scope,” he said.
He suggested that the regulations should be coproduced by the industry and the EASA–although the agency is in fact approaching the end of a long consultation process (see “EASA extends comment time on OPS rules” on page 34).
EBAA France wants more time to work on the Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) covering business aircraft operations. “Our specific requirements are better taken into account [by the existing NPA] but this is still not enough–as it is, the NPA is far too complicated for an operator with just two aircraft,” an EBAA France executive told EBACE Convention News.
At the same time, Aguettant is calling for a European Union registration to replace national registrations for aircraft. He explained that different sets of rules, depending on the base country, apply to the sector. He claimed that business aviation is at a competitive disadvantage in France compared to some other countries, which has prompted more and more owners to register aircraft outside France.
EBAA France believes that an EU registration would make standards covering safety, taxes, crew training and employment conditions more uniform. Aguettant suggested the aircraft registry should be in place by 2012.
The French group also wants to increase its public profile to boost its influence on the Brussels-based EBAA. “We want a better governance, with a fairer balance between small and large operators,” he said. Among EBAA’s 21 governors, two seats are already held by EBAA France.
On the airport access front, Aguettant noted with satisfaction that beginning this year, Cannes-Mandelieu Airport will no longer be subject to slot allocation. “One of the reasons was that NetJets Europe was making a clean sweep of grandfather rights and we protested,” Aguettant said. Cannes was a slot-coordinated airport for the first time last summer.
At Paris Le Bourget, the association continues to fight against potential additional restrictions. “A number of local mayors are in favor of a complete night-flight ban,” another EBAA France executive reported. The current situation is that all arrivals are allowed but night departures are very restricted. In fact, only emergency medical and governmental flights are permitted.
Aguettant also urged members to adhere to a new voluntary environmental program to avoid the taxes the authorities may want to create if the industry is seen to be dragging its feet. The program, which is promoted by the entire French air transport industry, is dubbed Observatair. It is based on measurement of environmental performance and implementation of best practices.
Lobbying efforts directed at members of the French parliament, mayors and other local authorities are to be rethought and strengthened. EBAA France’s 70 members are being asked for an extra ?500 ($655) fee to support the PR campaign this year. In the weeks leading up to EBACE 2009, Aguettant visited a number of business aviation companies to convince them to join EBAA France.