There is a lot of “positive momentum” for the business aviation industry going into 2014, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said this morning at the NBAA regional forum in Boca Raton, Fla. “U.S. Congress passed an omnibus budget agreement in December, and the Republican leadership, which just returned from their annual retreat, indicated that they will indeed raise the debt ceiling,” he noted.
“Growth in the U.S.–the main business aviation market–is now at 3.2 percent,” Bolen said. “Historically, anything over 3 percent is good for our industry, so I’m optimistic.” In addition, the message at the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference earlier this month was that flight activity and fuel sales are “headed in the right direction,” he said.
“The real question is if the federal government will help or hurt our industry this year,” Bolen emphasized. While sequestration and the government shutdown hurt business aviation last year, he said the last Congress has helped more than hurt, given the reinstatement of the blocked-tail-number program, FAA reauthorization and resistance to EU-ETS.
“We hope this trend continues this year and we’re seeing early signs that it is, with Congress requiring the FAA to get industry input on its sleep apnea policy.” However, “aviation user fees are unlikely to go away” in this climate of federal budget deficits, so he called on attendees to “get active and get engaged” with their elected officials in Washington to make sure their voices are heard.