The European Business Aviation Association has set out its strategy for the year ahead in an effort to counteract the challenging economic environment and "unbalanced" legislation facing the business aviation community.
The faltering economy resulted in the number of business aircraft flights declining by 4.3% in Europe last year compared to 2011, according to the Brussels-headquartered trade body.
"There are still a number of battles to win if we are to see flight activity levels return to pre-crisis rates," says EBAA chairman Rodolfo Baviera. "We have established a set of key priorities aimed at removing growth barriers for our sector - be they financial or operational - in order to ensure that we can continue meeting the demand for efficient, secure, point-to-point business travel."
Four high-profile issues will take centre stage, the first of which is the campaign against illegal flights: "EBAA will be working closely with European officials to develop robust legislation to prevent and regulate illegal flight activity," says Baviera. "In the coming 12 months we will steer a comprehensive impact assessment to illustrate the scope of illegal activities, and the current difficulties for Member States to combat them efficiently."
Fair and equal access to the region's airspace and airports for business aviation is also a priority for the association this year, as is its determination to achieve a fairer EU emission trading scheme (ETS) for the community.
EBAA says it will identify ways to eliminate the "unbearable admin costs" endured by smaller emitters. Furthermore, "we will continue to propose constructive views for the achievement of internationally-accepted market-based measures [for the EU ETS]," it continues.
EBAA's final pledge is to develop an international standard for business aviation handling. "Such a standard would enable the sector to conduct its own quality and safety assessment of fixed base operators and ground handling, and could help stimulate self-regulation from a top-down perspective across the board," says EBAA.
Baviera accepts that these issues will not be resolved immediately: "There's always a 'reaction period' before such aero-political actions have a measurable impact on the bottom lines of the operators," he says. "Helping decision-makers prioritise is particularly crucial in these tough times, if the long-term resilience of the sector is to be preserved."