Although the Baltic Air Charter Association (Booth F35) is based in London at the maritime-focused Baltic Exchange, the association is increasing its international membership as well as its relevance to business aviation. Embraer is one of its newest members, along with Hong Kong Aircraft Charter Limited (HACTL).
AIN met BACA chairman Richard Mumford in late April at the Royal Exchange before heading to the Merchant Taylors' Hall for the Spring BACA lunch (with its record 270+ attendees). Despite the venue's focus as a global heartland for finance and trade, Mumford was keen to say that BACA is “continuing on our path to maintaining high standards in the air charter broker market,” regardless of what the flights are for—cargo, first aid, or the usual non-scheduled passenger trips.
Putting meat on the bone of the rhetoric involved teaming up with Cincinnati-based Argus International, creating baseline standards for auditing brokers. “We’ve got several brokers going through the accreditation program now,” said Mumford.
Volker Meissner, BACA deputy chairman, told AIN that audits with Argus “started two years ago, and now we’re getting the brokers on board. For them it’s new.” He said an audit generally takes one or two days. “It took us about two years to develop the standard, so brokers can now use the BACA accreditation [powered by Argus] to help them stand out.” Argus also has its own Platinum ratings for business aircraft operators, he added.
Mumford said that BACA is also adding more events to its calendar—with a highlight being the Air Charter Expo (ACE) at London Biggin Hill Airport on September 12. The event grew out of the former BGAD event that moved from Cambridge to Biggin Hill, and BACA has now teamed with Biggin Hill to promote the charter broker/operator sector. “It’s the only event of its kind in the UK,” he said.
BACA’s membership continues to grow, with Embraer being one of the latest additions. Around one third of the members are brokers, of all sizes. One third are operators and one third other support entities, such as law firms and insurance companies.
BACA is “in the process of converting from a member association to a company limited by guarantee,” said Mumford. “We realized this was a better structure for doing conferences, etc.” The governing council, which has around 15 members, will continue to oversee BACA. Meanwhile, Mumford said, BACA has done a lot to build up its resources over the past year or so.
The advocate association has also joined the ranks of those trying to “get the message across that corporate jets are not about the champagne lifestyle, but about business efficiency,” said Mumford. “Associations like BACA have a key role to play in promoting and explaining to politicians what the industry offers, including how many people it employs and the turnover.”
Gray charter is another issue it faces “quite regularly” in discussions with members, said Mumford. “Our broker members get quite upset. They are often phoned up for quotes and find out later that a private flight [made the trip]. They can report it to the CAA, but they don’t really have the resources to police it. [Charter customers] need to check that they are on a correctly designated flight.”
Speaking at the lunch podium, Mumford said, “It’s been a fantastic year for the association and membership continues to grow to record levels.” He also mentioned sponsor Weston Aviation, with founder Nick Weston noting, “It wasn’t many years ago that there were no FBOs at UK regional airports. Our business model was simple—to fill this gap.” BACA’s membership voted Weston Aviation the best FBO.
The next BACA Awards will take place at its Autumn Luncheon on October 18. Meanwhile at EBACE 2017 it will be having informal drinks at its stand on Monday, May 22, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.