The British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) is “striving to build an international voice, and that should be communicated to government and agencies at every opportunity.” That was the message on Thursday from association patron Prince Michael of Kent at the association's annual conference.
Brexit was top of mind, and the subject of the only panel that included industry, CAA, and UK Department for Transport (DfT) representatives. The proposed two-year “transition period” after the March 2019 Brexit date could mean things don’t change too quickly, and the consensus seemed to be that things might change very little in practice. There will need to be a new UK-EU bilateral agreement, and “the government’s preferred position is to remain part of the EASA system,” reported Mike Alcock, assistant director for aviation at DfT. Alcock added that the UK might well follow the “Swiss model,” following the EASA system but not having as much influence in the lawmaking process as it would have as an EU member state.
However, David Oastler, the CAA's head of Brexit, said, “There is still a huge amount of uncertainty, so businesses should be thinking what they have to do in a variety of scenarios.”
Marc Bailey, BBGA CEO, updated members on the association’s “Vision & Values” initiative. In response to member feedback, it is is making efforts to get “out to the regions” of the UK. Meanwhile, it has reviewed its structure, constitution, and governance, and is also planning a “national association forum.” BBGA now has an FBO Group that, among other things, is “lobbying for better access to slots and parking," according to chair Jason Hayward of Universal Aviation at Stansted Airport.
He also reflected on successes at the political level, as the number of Members of the UK Parliament (MPs) joining the influential All-Party Parliamentary Aviation Group (APPG) at Westminster surpassed the 100 mark, thanks to the efforts of former minister Grant Shapps MP. “The APPG has suddenly blossomed…and the Department for Transport is now looking at the ‘network of airfields’ we need up until 2050,” with a report expected form consultancy York Aviation this year.