Debunking the Myths: The True Impact of Business Jet Traffic During the World Economic Forum
Brussels, 18 January 2023. The World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos is known for attracting business leaders, politicians, and representatives with international and government and philanthropic organizations.
In recent years, there have been reports that the event leads to an increase in business jet traffic, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 1,000 extra flights occur during the WEF. However, these reports are based on incorrect assumptions about the number of movements, and the calculation of regular traffic. Airports surrounding Davos are a popular destination for business aircraft throughout the year, and the WEF is not the only event that leads to an increase in traffic.
An important factor to consider when assessing the impact of the WEF on business jet traffic is that many of the flights associated with the event are not directly related to the event itself. For example, a short flight of 21 km from Friedrichshafen to Altenrhein, which reportedly increased business jet traffic during the WEF, was not related to the event at all. Instead, it was a repositioning flight that picked up passengers in Altenrhein to fly to Cannes. This flight would have occurred regardless of whether or not the WEF had taken place, and should therefore not be included in estimates of business jet traffic specifically related to the event.
The second example includes the 1000 supposed private jets, or 500 flights as mentioned by Greenpeace and CE Delft being related to WEF, which is actually a maximum estimate and not a confirmed number. These flights include not only business aircraft, but also many turboprops, military and government airplanes. Many business aircraft continued to another airport after dropping off passengers for the WEF event due to parking constraints, which further inflates the estimate of 500 flights. This means that, in reality, the number of business aircraft associated with the WEF is likely much lower than 500.
According to the WEF, the number of aircraft movements is usually around 250 for the organization’s event. This number has also been confirmed by other industry sources that have been following the aircraft movements for years. Given the various factors that can inflate the number of flights associated with the WEF, 250 aircraft movements seems like a more accurate and likely estimate.
These examples highlight the importance of considering all the facts and context when assessing the impact of the WEF on business jet traffic, and not jumping to conclusions based on incomplete data.
People, government leaders and organisations use business aircraft to travel to WEF Davos for several reasons. The primary reason is connectivity, allowing passengers to travel and make the most efficient use of their time. Business aircraft are often the only way to reach certain remote locations, such as Davos, which is located in a mountainous region of Switzerland not easily accessible by train or other forms of transportation.
For example, travelling by Business jet from London to Davos takes around 1.5 hours, while a train journey takes 10 to 11 hours. The time difference is around 9 hours both ways.
Additionally, business aircraft provide a level of security especially important to government leaders , not available on other forms of transportation for protecting against (corporate) espionage.
The real issue: Sustainable flight
The business aviation industry has a continuous and proven track record of becoming ever-more sustainable. Constant product evolution, driven by research and development, explains why our sector is the catalyst for innovation in aviation and a leader in decarbonising the aviation sector.
The global business aviation community is also leading the way in sustainable flight through the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change, an initiative led by the European Business aviation Association (EBAA), the International Business aviation Council (IBAC), and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of business aviation to net-zero by 2050. The Commitment includes a number of actions, such as accelerating the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), promoting market-based “book-and-claim” initiatives to support SAF even where it’s not available, investing in new technologies such as electric propulsion, and implementing operational measures to reduce emissions.
In addition to the specific sustainability initiatives undertaken by the business aviation industry, it’s also worth noting that the sector plays a crucial role as a catalyst for innovation, helping to drive advancements in technology and operational efficiencies that benefit the aviation industry as a whole. By investing in new technologies, implementing sustainable practices, and promoting environmentally-friendly solutions, the business aviation sector is helping to spur developments that make aviation more sustainable for all.
Note to editors
This joint statement is co-signed by leading aviation associations European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).
About EBAA: The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) is the leading organisation for operators of business aircraft in Europe. Our mission is to enable responsible, sustainable growth for Business aviation, enhance connectivity and create opportunities. EBAA works to improve safety standards and share knowledge, to further positive regulation and to ease all aspects of closely tailored, flexible, point to point air transportation for individuals, governments, businesses and local communities in the most time-efficient way possible. Founded in 1977 and based in Brussels, EBAA represents +700 members companies, corporate operators, commercial operators, manufacturers, airports, fixed-based operators, and more, with a total fleet of +1,000 aircraft. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, or visit our website on www.ebaa.org.
About NBAA: Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at nbaa.org.
About NATA: The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for more than 80 years. Representing nearly 3,700 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies. Learn more about NATA at nata.aero.