Worried Man Blues and private jet bans

opinion
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Robert Baltus is a worried man. So worried he wrote exclusively to Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) this week to set out his concerns about a ban on private jets proposed recently in France.

As chief operations officer of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), Baltus was responding to plans from France’s minister delegate for Transport Clément Beaune to ban or restrict the use of private jets in France.

It would be easy to dismiss such plans as bitter fruit – the populist politics of envy. But that would be to dismiss genuine concerns about the use of private jets in Europe and North America. In May restrictions were proposed on private jet arrivals at East Hampton Airport, New York. There was even talk of banning larger private jets. Previously a ban, or punitive taxes, were suggested on private jet landings in Massachusetts.

Canada has gone a step further. The country is adding a 10% tax on the purchases of luxury aircraft, cars and boats from next month.

The motivation behind such suggestions is easy to discover. Take for example, Kylie Jenner’s much-criticised 17-minute, 40-mile flight in the Los Angeles area. Setting aside whether this was a repositioning flight (that would have taken place regardless of its celebrity passenger), such flights focus real concern about the environmental impact of private flights, in particular, and aviation in general.

Baltus’ letter to us opposing the proposed ban represents a master class in marshalling careful and well-considered arguments in favour of private jet aviation. “Bullying the smallest segment of the aviation sector representing 0.04% of the global CO2 emissions because it’s an easy target and the crowd demands a sacrifice won’t solve anything,” he wrote to us. “On the contrary, it will further deteriorate European economies and the lives of the citizens we serve and employ.”

France has a great aviation and technology heritage with great business aviation manufacturers like Dassault, Daher, Airbus and Airbus Helicopters, Baltus wrote. “These companies are developing the sustainable aviation of tomorrow through all types of technological improvements such as SAF, electric aircraft, etc.” Private aviation like the airlines have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Plus in Europe alone aviation generates €87bn ($86.98bn) of economic output in Europe and about 400,000 highly skilled jobs.

Such arguments have already won support from many respondents to CJI’s social media platforms. Charles Pace, director for Civil Aviation at Transport Malta vented the frustration of many respondents. Ian Petts, head of Yachting & Aviation at Equiom Group, spoke for many with the comment: “Great to see our industry mobilising against these vote-buying populist politicians who have not done their homework.”

Meanwhile, perhaps we can find inspiration in Woody Guthrie’s 1940 hit tune Worried Man Blues. “It takes a worried man to sing worried song,” crooned Guthrie.
“I’m worried now but I won’t be worried long.” That might just be true for private jet aviation – if the sector can find a united and compelling voice to answer its many, and increasingly, vocal critics.

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