Echoing a refrain that has been sung around Washington for years, Air Transport Association president and CEO James May reiterated recently that the airlines have been subsidizing general aviation, business aviation and government users of the civil aviation system for years, and he called for a sweeping reform of tax policies.
Don Burr and Bob Crandall exude confidence for their intended new venture, Pogo, but the air-taxi concept is not a matter of belief, nor is the outlook for it dire or grim; the concept is simply immature.
First, to bring the issue into sharper focus, it is important to distinguish between the very light jet (VLJ) itself and the air-taxi concept.
After working to put down roots in Europe for the best part of a decade, Signature Flight Support now appears to be gathering some real momentum with its recent acquisition of facilities in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Greece, as well as the opening of a new base at Toulon-Hyéres Airport in the south of France. The European chain now includes some 15 full-service FBOs and an executive aircraft handling presence at almost 20 more airports.
A steady rise in traffic and load factors might seem like good news for the airline delegates gathered at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Vienna from September 29 to October 1. But as airlines turn to “fierce cost cutting” to attract passengers, reality muted any calls for celebration during the three-day event.
Charter broker Air Partner has seen a 40-percent increase in executive aircraft bookings over the past year. In an October 6 statement, which reported significantly improved financial results for the year ending July 31, the UK-based group said that business aircraft charters had increased most markedly during May, June and July and that many of these bookings were from financial institutions.
The corporate shuttle. It starts “here,” goes “there” and comes back again on a regular schedule. Not unlike a weaver’s “shuttle,” efficiently pulling the thread back and forth to create a work worthy of the weaver’s craft. And that, in essence, is what the corporate shuttle aircraft does.
Six months ago, when 10 new states joined the European Union (EU), the lifting of trade and political barriers enlarged the world’s largest borderless marketplace to 450 million people. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta joined the existing 15 member states on May 1. In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania are likely to join the EU, with Croatia and Turkey to follow eventually.
During the heyday of small-airplane manufacturing in the mid- to late 1970s, factories in Wichita, Lock Haven and Vero Beach built tens of thousands of airplanes, and every one of them somehow had to find its way from the conclusion of the production flight-test process into the hands of an owner or dealer.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has ruled out introducing taxes on jet fuel for commercial operators for at least three years. In a hard-fought deal struck at the close of the organization’s assembly on October 8, ICAO delegates agreed that no fuel taxes or charges can take effect before its next triennial assembly in the fall of 2007.
As professionals engaged in business aviation, each of us probably has questions about what lies ahead for our community. Will there be sufficient airspace and runway capacity to accommodate an increasing number of operations without a subsequent increase in delays? Will the ATC infrastructure be improved, and if so, whose voices will dominate the debate for designing a new system?