Business aviation continues to grow in Russia, when measured by the number of aircraft and flights. However, it is no longer growing at the rates observed few years ago, according to Eugeny Bakhtin, vice president of Russia’s United Business Aviation Association (RUBAA).
“We used to have annual increases of 40 to 50 percent,” he said. “Today our development continues at the rate of 10 to 12 percent year on year. [However], despite the notable slow-down in the rates, we still enjoy a steady increase.” He attributed the slowdown to the growing maturity of the local market.
At the same time, Bakhtin had some difficulty categorizing the current state of Russian business aviation as a “mature market” or “emerging market.” He replied, “To me, the local market can still and better be labeled as ‘new,’[because] it is rather balanced and yet growing at the same time.”
RUBAA itself is today “a healthy organism,” Bakhtin told AIN, especially now that the local business aviation community has come together under one industry association. “Our numerical strength has been growing as more corporations, companies and private owners apply for membership. We are nearing 100 members,” he said.
He attributes this increase to the growing popularity of the association within the aviation community and its increasing influence on the public and government. “We try to do effective lobbying for business aviation interests at every level,” he said.
Bakhtin explained that the hard work of RUBAA and similar organizations before it have made the environment for business aviation in Russia friendlier. “The hefty customs duties on imported business aircraft are a thing of the past now,” he said, adding, “Russia has joined the Cape Town convention, which resulted in a better protection of lessors and the aircraft owner’s rights. In fact, [these protections] are now at the same level in Russia and the Western Europe.”
Working the Show
Here at JetExpo 2013 in Moscow this week, RUBAA has arranged various conferences and round-tables, during which the association is highlighting and addressing “the whole list of issues we are working on,” Bakhtim said.
A core activity of the association involves work with legislators to create a better environment for business aviation operations. “Our main goal is to make business aviation more accessible to a wider circle of industrialists and entrepreneurs,” he said. “In particular, we want to see a wider use of business aircraft by corporations, not so much by their chief executives, but rather by middle-range managers, since the top executives have long been doing that already.”
To help achieve this goal, RUBAA is seeking ways to reduce MRO and airport charges applied to business aircraft. The association also has some “tactical targets,” such as “elimination of unnecessary bureaucratic barriers,” which make everyday life difficult for business jet operators.
Problems Outside of Moscow
Although business aviation infrastructure is fairly well developed in Moscow, it remains fragmented elsewhere else in the vast country.
“Management in many local airports either does not allow business aviation in or tries to rob it, which is essentially the same thing,” Bakhtin claimed. “That’s why RUBAA is paying special attention to providing some level of legal protection [via federal laws] for business and general aviation in the provincial airports,” he said.
The association also is also looking for ways to help investors, who are willing to develop business and general aviation at airports, obtain permission to do so from local authorities and airport management.