Europe's business aviation industry

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Europe's business aviation industry has many tough choices and challenges this year and it must be proactive in the face of new political hurdles and rising operating costs, according to Fabio Gamba, chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).

Speaking at the trade association's annual general meeting in Brussels this month, Gamba cited as key industry concerns the "worrying proliferation of national taxes, a burdensome EU emissions trading system (ETS), a faulty Single European Sky due to the lack of member states' political will, a recast of the slots regulation that deprives business aviation of historical rights under their current form, and other important initiatives in domains such as ground handling and noise".

Gamba said: "We may be facing headwinds, but that means we must push harder against them. We must demonstrate the significance of our industry. And we must use our expertise and influence to assist politicians and regulators as they weather the global crisis."

Business aviation is taking important steps, said the EBAA. One initiative is the creation of an International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH). It mirrors on the sector's successful International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), which is a recognised European standard and has more than 500 operators registered globally as in compliance.

"The EU's ground handling regulation recast did not include airports of less than two million passengers [a year], which is primarily the types of airport from which business aviation operates. Therefore we have anticipated the needs of our industry and developed up-to-date standards that are also aligned with the regulations," said EBAA president Brian Humphries. "We will conduct our own quality and safety assessments of fixed base operators and ground handling against this standard, enhancing both safety and the customer experience to the benefit of all."

Another important initiative is business aviation's campaign to curtail illegal charter flight activity within Europe. It aims to discourage the operation of aircraft that do not have a valid air operator's certificate, or are non-compliant with traffic rights. The EBAA has published guidance for operators, brokers, passengers, politicians, authorities and regulators.