Athar Husain Kahn took on the role of secretary-general of European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) on July 2, bringing with him a profound knowledge of the working of the EU institutions and 25 years of experience in aero-political affairs and advocacy including several years at the helm of the Association of European Airlines. Husain Kahn is a Dutch national and a lawyer by education. AIN spoke to Husain Khan ahead of his first attendance at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.
What is your vision for the EBAA?
Primarily I would like to effectively, forcefully represent our members’ interest in the broad sense of the word. This includes direct engagement with members: be very visible to them and be accessible as an organization to make sure that we are completely aligned in representing them and their key concerns whether it be operational, commercial, or regulatory.
I also aim to strengthen the external component of the trade association and translate our members’ concerns in what we believe regulators, politicians, media should be doing to facilitate their needs and enable the function of business aviation.
Business aviation plays a significant part in aviation as an industry. It deserves to be treated as such by regulators, politicians—which would be certainly here in Brussels our target audience—and stakeholders. We have very specific requirements which need to be catered to for us to keep on thriving, be effective and efficient so we can continue adding value to the economy, connectivity, employment.
In other words, bizav is under-recognized as an economic sector and not identified as a specific industry by the EU institutions?
I do agree with that. There are a couple of key areas where we feel our interests are not dealt with appropriately. Access to airports is a very obvious one. Flight-time limitations is another one; the FTL regulation as it is currently agreed is an impediment to very flexible operations, particularly on long-haul [flights]. And business aviation is indeed not really represented in the definitions of the [new] EASA basic regulation.
Which solutions do you see possible to increase business aviation operators’ access to slot constraint airports?
There needs to be a recognition that bizav provides a service to the market, the economy, the community. Part of the slots, even at the large airports, should be allocated to business aviation. Why not ringfence or earmark some of the slots that are released from the slot pool to business aviation?
How damaging will Brexit be for Europe’s business aviation?
Brexit is a nightmare for the aviation industry, including business aviation, because it poses a threat to the liberalized, open market that we fought for for two, three decades. It has brought huge benefits to Europe, to the markets, to passengers.
We are concerned about Brexit, but it’s no secret that, like all other associations in Brussels, we have a diversified and mixed membership. Hence, the interests are not completely aligned.
However, it is key that we have a very close eye on the UK’s pending exit from the EU. We had a legal analysis conducted a couple of months ago, spelling out the different scenarios of what might happen on EASA, traffic rights, customs, and all issues that can impede the efficiency and the economic viability of operations.
Are you confident CORSIA is on the right path and will help deliver the sector’s environmental goals?
Very much so. Recently, the ICAO Council approved the Standards and Recommended Practices, which have been published as per schedule. Monitoring templates are published and in place to help simplify procedures for operators and, next to this, our operators are becoming more familiar with their monitoring and reporting responsibilities that commence in January through the many training workshops that are being organized. Acknowledging this, I am also confident CORSIA will help deliver business aviation’s climate change goals. Market-based measures were identified within the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change’s part of the “basket of measures,” improving the overall environmental impact of business aviation since it was published in 2009.