Current Issues

Perception of Business Aviation

The Business Aviation Industry

Business Aviation (BusAv) is a well-established air transport sector in Europe. It started in the 1920s with the first companies having corporate aircraft to transport their personnel across Europe and beyond. From here, BusAv expanded to what it is now: an industry gradually reaching maturity. It consists of a mixture of charter, corporate, private and fractional operations. Europe has become the second largest BusAv market after North America. An estimated 800 commercial operators compete in a market that boasts around 700,000 movements per year (of which, around 400,000 are commercial flights). There are some 3,300+ BusAv aircraft in Europe, generating close to € 20bn per annum in Gross Value Added (GVA) and supporting around 165,000 jobs. 

Until 2008 (BusAv’s peak year), the sector boomed, reaching a point of representing around 8% of the total IFR air traffic in Europe. It enjoyed double-digit growth, and became so prominent that both the European Commission, and then the European Parliament, released separate declarations acknowledging its new importance to Europe – logistically, socially and economically. 

However, since 2009, with the economic environment being more challenging, the sector has found it hard to maintain the same level of activity, let alone grow. 2014 was the first growth year since 2011, but this was very modest at 0.7%, and trends are down again in 2015. It is estimated that the activity levels of 2008 won’t be reached again before 2017-2018 at best. 

The Perception Problem 

In significant ways, Business Aviation suffers from negative perception, particularly in the European business and political circles. This is taking its toll in two important areas: 
  • Ill-suited legislation, e.g. access to airports, EU-ETS, ground handling, FTL, etc.
  • Difficulty of economic rebound. 

For a number of legislative and business reasons, decision-makers tend to neglect Business Aviation, overlooking its economic importance, value and benefits to the European Community. We believe that negative perception is having a big influence on the sector in terms of growth, profit and ability to enable further-reaching economic gains. 

To address the issue of misperception of business aviation, the EBAA is working on several key initiatives, including a study on the economic value of business aviation to be released by the end of 2015.

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