CJI Global 2020: Covid-19 ‘focuses US government’s attention on business aviation’
The Covid-19 health emergency has focused the attention of US policy makers on the contribution of business aviation, said Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
“We are pleased that lawmakers and regulators recognise that business aviation is critical to our nation’s economy and our transportation infrastructure and they’re taking necessary steps to make sure that we not only survive, but find ourselves in a position to thrive when the coronavirus challenge has been met,” said Bolen.
Contributing to the CJI Global 2020 forum Working with regulators – the view from associations, he highlighted the work of NBAA and other associations to ensure the concerns of the business aviation community are addressed by the US government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act; widely known as the CARES Act.
He also acknowledged some frustration on the part of companies owning and operating their own aircraft that they were not flying more frequently. “There is some pent-up excitement about the ability to get back [to full flight operations],” he said. “But there are concerns the coronavirus is not lessening its grip [in the US] at the present time.”
The NBAA boss added that he was excited new customers were coming to the industry and that the sector had a great opportunity to showcase what it can deliver for society and the economy.
Tim Obitts, President and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), spoke of the big personal emotional costs exacted on individual operators by the Covid-19 crisis. In telephone conversations, some were reduced to tears at the prospect of having to make staff redundant or furlough them, he said. But he went on to describe a “huge pick up [in business aviation] over the past three weeks”. However, customers remained cautious because of the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases in the US. “We need to demonstrate that we [as an industry] are safe, clean and secure,” said Obitts.
Airports cutting their presence at US regional airports represented a significant opportunity for business aviation. “Corporations still have senior executives that need to fly and there’s cargo that needs to be transported,” said Obitts. “That’s what business aviation does. So, we have a great story to tell.”
‘Leading indicator of recovery’
Bolen suggested that business aviation may recover quickly – unlike in previous downturns. “Oftentimes, business aviation has been a trailing indicator of recessions. But this time, there are indications it is a leading indicator of recovery,” he said. “I think there’s a sense that, this time, we can lead, facilitate and foster that recovery. Our members can actually lead the sprint and hand off the baton as we go forward.”
Athar Husain Khan, secretary general of the European Business Aircraft Association (EBAA), said the Covid-19 crisis offered a major opportunity for business aviation in Europe. Private aviation operated from more airports than commercial airlines and was proving much quicker to recover from the Covid-19 crisis. “Within Europe, business aviation operators use three times as many airports than commercial operators,” Khan told delegates.
“If there’s an aviation that can lead the recovery, it is business aviation. These arguments are gaining traction and seeing recognition at regulatory and political level,” he added.
Meanwhile, you can watch panel discussions and presentations from CJI Global 2020 here.
Working with regulators – the view from associations
-Athar Husain Khan, secretary general of the European Business Aircraft Association
-Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association
-Tim Obitts, President and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association.
Tim Obitts: Business aviation “has a great story to tell …”.