Romania is witnessing an unprecedented growth in business aircraft traffic, boosted by the former communist country's 10-year privatisation programme.

President of business aircraft handling company Romanian Airports Authority (RAS), Dorin Ivascu, says: "Privatisation has drawn international companies to Romania [including US industrial group Biofarm, which recently acquired aircraft manufacturer Romaero], which are keen to invest in the region.

"It has also created an increasing number of wealthy individuals who use business aircraft more and more to conduct their affairs."

Bucharest's second largest airport, Baneasa, which supports business aircraft and domestic scheduled and charter airline operations, has witnessed a fivefold increase in business aircraft traffic within four years, according to RAS statistics.

In 1995, business aircraft operations accounted for 2% of total movements, with 65 flights. Last year the figure rocketed to 453 flights, representing around 50% of total airport charter traffic. "Executive flights have increased by 696% since 1995 at Baneasa, which is becoming the business airport for the capital," adds Ivascu.

He concedes, however, that the increase in movements at Baneasa is partly due to Bucharest international hub Utopeni limiting business aircraft traffic to handle more scheduled airline movements.

Five Romanian business aircraft operators and service providers, including RAS, set up a dedicated pressure group - the Romanian Business Aviation Association - in 1995, to represent the industry's interests. "The aim of the association is to get some recognition for business aviation in general. We feel as though we are achieving this," adds Ivascu.

Source: Flight International