On 21 January, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) concluded a highly successful One Europe Regional Forum with concrete actions agreed to address the many operational challenges raised by members of the business aviation community during the meeting. The forum was sold-out with one hundred participants in attendance. One of them declared: “This is probably the first time I feel I wisely used my time in a two-day meeting. Quite a show!”
Of chief concern was the unlevel playing field that exists within Europe. “The forum was subtitled A Roadmap for Aligning East and West, commented Rodolfo Baviera, Chairman of the European Business Aviation Association, “but as the discussions progressed, it became clear that there was also still much to do to align West with West.”
Issues included the lack of harmonized rules (most notedly in respect of runway performance requirements and Flight Time Limitations) for commercial and non-commercial operations. This often puts AOC holders at a disadvantage, which in many ways contributes to operators choosing to label their activities as private when they are in fact commercial. And indeed, from country to country, the very definition of commercial and non-commercial can carry multiple interpretations.
Access, particularly to Russia, Kazahkstan and Belarus, was another focal point. To that end, the Russian United Business Aviation Association provided updates on new legislation expected to be passed within the coming months that could ease impediments such as the importation of spare parts and ambiguous customs rules.
Participants agreed that industry standards such as IS-BAO, plus EBAA´s Emergency Response Planning Manual and FBO and Handling Code of Practice, are highly effective tools. As such the group debated whether or not more quality standards should be created for vendors, such as for example insurance companies and brokers.
Lack of harmony across European States extends to tax, VAT and financing as well, and participants shared how tax rules are enforced in their own countries, demonstrating how complex legislative compliance can be when rules tend to vary every several hundred kilometers.
“This meeting was not all talk and no action, though,” emphasized EBAA CEO and President Brian Humphries. “The most critical part of the event took place during the final session when we reviewed all of the issues that had been tabled over the course of the two days, and drafted concrete action points to address these challenges.”
Within the coming weeks, small focus teams of EBAA members will be assigned to each action point. These teams will be responsible for addressing the challenges put to them and for drafting official positions to be approved and adopted by the EBAA on behalf of the European business aviation community. Thereafter, EBAA members and National Associations, working in concert with the EBAA secretariat, will be encouraged to communicate and lobby these positions towards National and EU Authorities.
“We´ve demonstrated in the past – for example with tailored Flight Time Limitations rules for business aviation - that it is vital that we help officials understand how business aviation differs in so many ways from the airlines and why it requires tailored rules,” says Humphries.
“This argument is of course supported by the European Parliament´s Agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation, which highlights our role in providing „tailored, flexible, door-to-door transportation for individuals, enterprises and local communities, increasing mobility of people, productivity of business and regional cohesion.
“But we still have a way to go, at both EU and National level. This forum and the work that will follow is an important step towards achieving suitable rules and enabling business aviation to benefit from uniform enforcement across the region.”