The "theme" for the tenth European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva is "optimism", says Brian Humphries, president of the event's co-organiser, the European Business Aviation Association.
"We have much to be optimistic about given that exhibitor numbers have only fallen by 2% this year to around 360, despite the downturn, yet the income remains the same as the 2009 show as many exhibitors have taken bigger stands," he adds. "Also, registrations are 30% up on the same time last year and the static display [on the apron of the adjoining Geneva airport] is also full at 62 aircraft and we have drawn up a waiting list," says Humphries.
EBACE will take place from 4-6 May, occupying halls 6 and 7 of the Swiss city's Palexpo centre. The annual event is the only dedicated showcase for business aviation in Europe - a key market for the throngs of business aircraft airframers, suppliers and operators that will be attending the show this year.
The static display at this year's EBACE will be full
The market is fragile and there could be tough times ahead, but there is a feeling that the turnaround - in Europe at least - has begun. Eurocontrol says business aircraft movements are up on 2009 "due to the pressure on charter pricing" and expects business aviation to continue its climb, recovering its 8% share of European traffic by 2015.
Europe remains a key market for all airframers. The continent is far from maturity and there is a wealth of untapped business from companies and high-net-worth individuals.
Humphries promises a "lot of good sessions" in the seminar rooms - hot topics for discussion include air traffic control modernisation/SESAR, the European emissions trading scheme for business jets, safety, duty time limitations and airport access. Regarding the latter, "we are asking for grandfather rights at those airports such as Luton, where business aviation accounts for 26% of the movements", says Humphries.
The focus of the EBAA is to assist our members, says Humphries - "guiding them through the European regulation and rule making processes jelping them to deliver industry best practice".
Similarly, EBACE remains an excellent networking opportunity and provides a platform for Europe's business aviation community to tell the world of the contribution the sector makes to the efficiency of businesses and the economy as a whole.
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