Business aviation industry bodies are calling on European policy-makers and regulators to “protect the continuity and survival” of the sector in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter published on 2 April, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and a clutch of national industry bodies urged EU member states, along with Switzerland and the UK, to “maintain full and effective coordination with our industry and the associations” throughout the crisis, and “ensure basic operational continuity for operators, service providers, manufacturers and the supply chain” to maintain essential flight services.
These include medical flights, supply of medical equipment, repatriation of citizens to their home countries, and the supply of aircraft and parts.
These measures must be implemented “as soon as possible” the associations say, to ensure that business aviation can resume its normal activities as soon as the crisis is over.
“The 374,000 people who work in the European business aviation sector are facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude and uncertain futures,” say the signatories.
It cites Eurocontrol traffic data from the last week of March, which records a decrease of 72% in business aviation traffic across Europe compared with the same period in 2019.
The letter also points to an EBAA-backed survey of 130 European business aviation chief executives – conducted between 26 March and 2 April – which reveals estimated financial losses of between 50-90% for the first quarter of 2020 for the thousands of small and medium enterprises that make up the sector.
The most “pressing issues” for the chief executives surveyed are staff retention costs, fixed location costs and taxes, it notes.
“We call on all European and national policy-makers to help safeguard our fragile and essential sector,” the associations say. “Together, we need to ensure that as many businesses as possible survive so they can help rebuild our economy by ensuring regional connectivity and providing medical flights when it is the only option to save a life.”
Pete Bunce, chief executive of GAMA, says the industry “stands ready to work in partnership with the EU institutions and national governments to continue to support relief work, deliver medical supplies, and to implement the measures outlined in this letter, which will help pave the way for recovery both in terms of health and the economy.”