BACA-The Air Charter Association (Booth J30) is teaming up with the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) to fight illegal charter. Under the joint effort, the organizations will collect data on the breadth and scope of “gray charter” practices—those involving the transport of paying passengers in aircraft that have not been approved for commercial operations.
“We are delighted to be cooperating with EBAA to build a case to identify and eliminate cases of illegal chartering,” said BACA chairman Richard Mumford. “Commercial operations are heavily regulated with good reason and attempts to circumvent that regulation present a risk to the market.”
The associations will use a joint reporting mechanism “to gain a more accurate picture of an activity that clearly puts at risk the safety and integrity of the air charter market as a whole and those who use it,” they said. Association members will be asked to help the effort by reporting suspected incidences of illegal activity. The goal is to gather as much evidence as possible on where gray charter is most present and who are the frequent offenders, they added.
The extent of the practice is unknown, the associations said, noting that gray charter is frequently not reported, and when it is regulators have limited resources to investigate and punish offenders. “Our members have become disillusioned by the perceived lack of action in dealing with reported cases,” the organizations said.
The associations hope that by building a database—along with an associated body of evidence—regulators will have more ability to deal with and ward off this activity.
“I am fully aware that our members have lost confidence in the regulatory enforcement in this area and, in turn, I have every sympathy with regulators who have a heavy workload and limited resource,” Mumford said. “The purpose of this initiative is therefore to gather evidence to help all stakeholders to assess and deal with illegal charters.”
Gray charter has long been one of the most pressing issues for members of both BACA and EBAA. Juergen Wiese, chairman of EBAA, noted his association has been combating the practice over most of the past decade. EBAA in 2011 began studying the issue and distributing pamphlets to educate passengers and national aviation authorities on illegal charter flights.
EBAA had identified regulations such as flight time limitations or runway performance as drivers for some operators to circumnavigate the regulations. But changes are ahead for some of those drivers, the association added. In addition to its study, EBAA had established a code of conduct, emphasizing that compliance and a safety culture is a must for the overall health of the industry.
The BACA and EBAA initiative, Wiese added, “brings together the two important hinging points, operators and charter brokers, to shed some light onto the gray and illegal areas of our industry.”