It is going to be a noisy EBACE


The European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) is underway in Switzerland.

You can expect at least one significant announcement from a manufacturer, at least one visit from protestors and at least one discussion about how expensive Geneva is. And a lot of talk about the cooling business aviation market.

This time last year, EBACE took place when there were real concerns about an upcoming global recession. This has not arrived. But it has not gone away either. As well as the US government debt ceiling approaching fast, many European countries are just managing to avoid technical recessions.

This economic uncertainty is hitting demand for business.

WINGX data shows that all business jet flights are down 8% so far this year compared with 2022. In North America flights are down 9% for the past four weeks. European flights were down 6% compared with the same week last year.

AMSTAT says that the proportion of aircraft for sale is rising. In May 2022, 4.31% of light jets were for sale. Now it is 6.23%. The number of midsize aircraft has also risen – 3.08% in 2022 versus 5.49% today – and large jets – 3.13% last year to 6.12%.

But this is nothing to panic about.

Flights are still above 2019 – pre-pandemic levels – and the proportion of aircraft for sale is still well under recent averages. We are just getting to a rational market. Of course it will not stay like this forever. But it is too early to be depressed.

One depressing thing that you can forecast is that the show is going to be targeted by environmental protestors. In one pre-EBACE press release an environmental group criticises the organisers for encouraging attendees to use refillable water bottles and reuse hotel towels. (If you are lucky enough to be in a hotel which provides towels.)

The protestors are asking people to bike to Palexpo on Tuesday at 1645. Of course, they may appear at other times. 

EBAA and NBAA are taking security seriously so bring ID and allow extra time for bag checks. This is especially important if you are coming to see the stars of Netflix’s Drive to Survive (and Formula One principals) Toto and Susie Wolf who open the show.

Jet Aviation and TotalEnergies are providing a 30% blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for all jets flying into EBACE. In their release, the protestors complain that SAF is just 0.1% of all jet fuel (in 2022 it was actually 1% and it will be a lot more this year). They then argue that everyone should just stop flying.

You can expect an important announcement on how business aviation is committing to stopping the illegal wildlife trade by signing the Buckingham Palace Declaration.

These are all great discussion points if you end up sitting next to a protestor on your flight over. Just don’t let them see your refillable water bottle.