European policy makers will this morning be told to stop kicking business aviation while it’s down at the opening general session of the 2012 EBACE show. New rules on airport slots, the emissions trading scheme (ETS) and new taxes imposed by Europe’s cash-strapped governments are all conspiring to keep the industry’s prospects flat, according to business aviation leaders gathering here in Geneva yesterday.
Several senior European officials have been summoned to this morning’s EBACE opening general session to be reminded that business aviation contributes an annual €20 billion ($25.8 billion) to a European economy which is currently on its knees. This scenario has inspired the EBACE show theme this year, “Business Aviation: Flying the Return to Growth.”
The conference panel will comprise Matthew Baldwin, director of air transport at the EC’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport; MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, who sits on the European Parliament’s influential Transport and Tourism Committee; and Salvatore Sciacchitano, executive secretary of the European Civil Aviation Conference, who is also a member of coordination committee of the Eurocontrol Provisional Council.
Despite the fact that business aviation generates €5.7 billion ($7.3 billion) in salaries and wages in Europe, punitive new European Union legislation will irrevocably damage the sector, industry representatives believe, unless regulators act to alter new laws coming into force.
Speaking at a pre-show press conference, Fabio Gamba, chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), said that 2012 would be “a pivotal year in the European theater.” He referred to issues such as the proliferation of national taxes and ETS, which is on the verge of provoking a full-blown global trade war after the U.S., Russia, China, India and other leading nations joined forces to refuse to comply with the cap-and-trade scheme.
Ed Bolen, president of the U.S. National Business Aviation Association, warned that ETS would harm U.S. Part 91 operators flying to Europe. According to EBAA, business aircraft represent 7.3 percent of Eurocontrol traffic but less than one percent of aviation emissions and only 0.03 to 0.04 percent of all EU emissions.
Other issues up for discussion today will likely include: a recast of the slots regulation that deprives business aviation of historical rights under current form and new rules on ground handling and noise.
This year’s show should attract 11,000 attendees, however, the market in Europe has been flat for some three years, with no tangible signs of a sustained recovery on the horizon.