The BACA The Air Charter Association's and EBAA's new partnership to gather information on illegal charter is a first step in combating the practice, Richard Mumford, chairman of BACA told AIN this week at EBACE 2018. The groups have joined forces to fight against what they believe is a “growing number of illegal charter flights—also known as ‘gray charter’—where aircraft that have not been approved for paying passengers are used for charter.” The joint initiative is to “gather evidence and ensure that illegal charters are dealt with.”
Mumford emphasized the need for the effort. “Everyone is losing confidence and we are seeing a lot of new routes opening up [especially from smaller airfields], so it’s harder to police. As a very first step we’ve agreed to gather data with EBAA.”
Under the partnership, the associations will gather data via a joint reporting mechanism, to gain a clearer picture of the activity, they said. The associations will ask members to help by reporting incidents of suspected illegal charters. “Ultimately this will benefit not just their members but all passengers, operators, brokers, and customers,” BACA and EBAA noted.
According to Mumford, the extend of the problem is unknown since cases frequently go unreported. The associations and their members are concerned about everything from abuse of flight sharing for light aircraft up to private business jets being used for what is in reality charters for money, rather than true private flights, without an AOC and all the costs and onerous conditions and procedures that go with that to protect travelers.
"The issue has been discussed at many conferences, but nothing ever happens to combat it,” said Mumford, who added that he would like to see a regulator bring a test case that highlighted the issues before there was a serious incident or accident. By providing information to the authorities, he believes they will be more likely to take on a case that otherwise they might feel they had insufficient evidence or resources to pursue.
“The problem is compounded by regulators handling full workloads and the resource drain that proving such cases represents,” the associations said. “In turn, our members have become disillusioned by the perceived lack of action in dealing with reported cases."