European business aviation traffic continued its downward trend in July, as the region grapples with the lingering effects of the economic downturn, and casts a wary eye toward global anxieties and other concerns.
According to the July 2012 Business Aviation Traffic Tracker, published by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), business aviation traffic throughout the European Union slipped 4 percent from July 2011 figures. That decline also contributed to a 2.6 percent drop in year-to-date traffic numbers compared with 2011 figures.
EBAA Chief Executive Officer Fabio Gamba said the latest figures ensure that 2012 will be a declining year for business aviation traffic in the region.
Although traffic overall has been down, there have been some bright spots in the region. Bulgaria led business travel growth with an increase of almost 14 percent year-to-date compared to 2011 figures, and travel to the 2012 Olympic Games in London helped raise traffic numbers for the United Kingdom more than 7 percent over June numbers.
Gamba predicted that 2013 figures would likely show little to no growth over those for 2012, though a rebound could occur in 2014. Until then, "Continued high fuel prices, threats of war and unrest in the Middle East, concerns over the fragility of the Euro and surging airport fees due to governments' need for cash are all reasons that I'm a bit pessimistic in the near term," he said.
Factors that could help spur growth, Gamba added, include an agreement with the international community on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), and a decision by the European Parliament and the European Council to grant business aviation recognition for slot allocation at European airports.
"Those could have boosting effects on the morale of the industry," Gamba concluded. "However, considering all the tangible and intangible factors at work, I believe the European business aviation sector is doing pretty well. That's why I believe it will do even better when the dust settles a little bit down."