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EBAA Commissions New Study on Benefits of Business Aviation
March 26, 2012
European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) Chairman Fabio Gamba is the first to admit this is a tough year for business aviation in Europe. “[It] is an extremely important year,” he said as he ticked off the regulatory and economic challenges facing business aviation across the Atlantic. But in the face of what he termed “strong headwinds,” Gamba is determined to remind Europe what business aviation is worth by commissioning a new study on European business aviation.
It is not a study of business aviation’s contribution to the European Union (EU) economy, Gamba said, nor is it a study about the number of business aviation aircraft flying the skyways over Europe.
“That’s already known,” he explained. “We’re more interested in talking with businesses in the EU about the benefits they derive from aviation.”
In the United States, Gamba said, it’s not hard to pull together figures to conduct such a study. In most cases, they’re available from the federal government. But in Europe, in spite of efforts to centralize some government functions as part of the EU, this kind of a study must still be conducted on a country-by-country basis.
Gamba said the study is meant to counter a perception in Europe that business aviation is synonymous with luxury. “The perception of people here in Europe is that business aviation isn’t the real term, that it should really be ‘VIP aviation’ or something like that. In the United States, people have a better understanding of the business-integrated nature of aviation.”
The study comes as Britain extends its air passenger duty to business passengers, the EU-ETS is extended to cover aviation and aviation officials grapple with slot allocations on a continent where few if any new runways are expected to open over the next 20 years.
In the midst of all that, Gamba said EU officials are making massive cuts in government services and oversight. The result: “We don’t know what kind of change we will see in the number of aircraft operations.”
But the effect of tax increases aimed specifically at general aviation has already become apparent in one EU country, Gamba said. In Italy, where taxes have been levied against general aviation, the number of operations dropped 9 percent in January and 11 percent in February – in spite of the extra day afforded by the calendar.