Tough business conditions in Europe have gone on much longer than anyone here at this year’s EBACE show would have liked, but the continent’s business aviation community is putting those concerns to one side this week as it seeks to convince policy-makers of the value the sector delivers. The value of the show itself is in no doubt, with the amount of exhibit space occupied at Geneva’s PalExpo center matching last year’s record numbers and the static display having to be increased in size to accommodate 52 aircraft.
The average size of the aircraft on display at EBACE is larger, and that is no surprise, given the rising preference among buyers for large-cabin, long-range equipment. According to EBAA chief executive Fabio Gamba, while the number of small and midsized aircraft has shrunk by around 10 percent since 2007, Europe’s large aircraft population has increased by as much as 70 percent over the same period.
Gamba may be stoical about economic conditions in Europe, but he is less patient with the way the continent’s political leadership is treating business aviation. “Some countries [like Italy and the UK] have singled out business aviation as a misguided source of tax revenue,” he told a media briefing here in Geneva yesterday. This morning’s EBACE opening general session will focus squarely on this and other examples of what EBAA characterizes as ill-founded impediments to business aviation’s recovery (see page 6).
“In good times and bad times EBACE is an important show, and probably even more so in the bad times,” said Ed Bolen, president of the NBAA, which jointly organizes EBACE with EBAA. “The show is important because it puts buyers and sellers together and because it gives us an opportunity to promote business aviation around the world. Plus it’s an opportunity to enhance the safety and professionalism of our industry.”