Just as the reduced size of this week’s NBAA show is a sign of the harsh economic times in which the business of business aviation is being conducted, next year’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva seems likely to be on a diminished scale as Europe’s economies deal with the downturn.
Recession had already taken hold in much of Europe around the time of this year’s EBACE, held in May. But exhibitor numbers remained high, in part because many companies had made commitments to be at the show long before the full extent of the downturn had become apparent on that side of the Atlantic.
In fact, this year turned out to be the third biggest EBACE in the show’s short history (the 2010 event marks its 10th anniversary), with 411 exhibitors occupying approximately 1,900 booth spaces. There were 10,917 visitors and they were able to view about 65 aircraft.
Although the visitor count was almost 3,000 down on the 2008 total of 13,692, the 2009 tally of exhibitors was not much lower than the 440 companies who occupied 1,958 booth spaces last year. So far, the 2008 show marks the high point for the EBACE (Booth No. 3839), which is jointly organized by NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association.
However, early indicators are that many companies will feel compelled to reduce or even suspend their presence at EBACE next year as marketing budgets adjust to the reduced revenue levels they have had to settle for over the past 12 months or so, and with sales projected to remain weak into next year. Business aviation in Europe started to feel the pinch around October 2008 in the wake of several high-profile banking crises.
However, the outlook in Europe is not all doom and gloom. In recent months, charter operators and FBOs have reported something of an uptick in traffic and demand levels–albeit during the typically busy summer months. In August, both the French and German economies statistically climbed just out of recession by reporting modest growth of around 0.3 percent for the previous quarter. That said, other major European economies, such as those of the UK, Spain and Italy, are still in decline or stagnation.
EBACE plans to remain in Geneva at least through 2015. More information about the show can be found at www.ebace.aero.