Business aircraft brokers have presented different views on the effect of US homeland security rules on transatlantic charters, with some claiming as much as $1 million in lost business.

Changes to US anti-terrorism legislation in the past few years have led to restrictions on foreign aircraft operators, which now require a US Federal Aviation Administration audit and a Part 129 licence. Also, immigration officials have toughened up US visa applications, necessary for private flights into the USA because only airlines come under the visa waiver programme.

Jeremy Palmer, director of executive aviation at brokers Hunt & Palmer International (H&P), says there are insufficient carriers with Part 129 certification in Europe, leading to higher rates and lost business. “Before 9/11, we booked around 30 transatlantic ad hoc charters and now the market has recovered and we have 30-40 requests but are only able to fulfil around 10,” he says.

H&P estimates that based on an average booking of about £70,000 ($125,000) for transatlantic flights, the lost business could be worth as much as £1 million a year. He says the insistence on visas, previously less rigorously enforced at smaller ports of entry in the USA, has also cost “significant” levels of last-minute bookings.

However, its rival, Air Partner, dismisses these claims, saying that although only 13 carriers in Europe have Part 129 status allowing free access into the USA, these carriers are the ones with the large-cabin, long-range aircraft required for such missions.

“Generally the people with the aircraft capable of flying to the USA have the permits; if you had a Boeing Business Jet without Part 129, you’d be daft,” says Air Partner sales director David Macdonald. He adds that, although visas take longer to issue, this is also of little concern because those using transatlantic business aircraft regularly tend to be aware of the need for a visa.


Source: Flight International