Accessing opportunity in an ever-changing global economy

Ed Bolen is President and CEO the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

Around the world, business aviation is a force-multiplier – opening doors, boosting efficiency and productivity, bringing people face to face and helping companies everywhere succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the value of this transport mode, which provides optimal point-to-point control over the health and safety of passengers and crew.

That said, on the international stage, a new factor has entered the business aviation equation. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to affect the business aviation sector across multiple levels, from the immediate and long-term impact on operations, to broader concerns including geopolitics, banking, transactions, asset management and even cybersecurity.

For example, airspace closures have already been disruptive to established traffic patterns throughout the region. The chief pilot for a large flight operation recently noted flight times from the US to India and the Asia-Pacific have increased by as much as five hours, with European operators facing similarly circuitous flight routing and diversions around Russia and Ukraine airspace.

This environment makes it more important than ever to have a robust network supporting your international operations, particularly if you’re a novice to international flying or trip planning. Guidance from reputable trip support vendors and respected intelligence and flight handling providers can make the difference between successfully completing your trip and running afoul of international restrictions.

Operators are also encouraged to utilize information resources from their respective countries, as well as online providers that list the latest official advisories (in the US, these are known as Notices to Air Missions) and other state-issued travel guidance.

Sanctions stress oil market, supply chain

The Ukrainian crisis also carries ramifications across other aspects of the industry, including additional stress on the global supply chain that will likely impact production rates during a time of high demand for new aircraft.

Companies with business ties to Russia also must consider the impact of international sanctions, with the environment changing “almost by the hour,” noted Ron Epstein, senior equity analyst for Bank of America.

The sanctions also carry significant ramifications for aircraft transactions, and place renewed emphasis on the importance of vetting buyers and sellers to ensure no blocked entities are party to the deal. Thorough documentation and due diligence by both parties are vital to avoid risk of government seizure and forfeiture.

At EBACE, the European business aviation community may learn about how new advanced technologies will impact their business, and which innovations can help make them more profitable and sustainable

As readers of World Commerce Review know, uncertainty over sanctions against Russian oil have already driven up fuel prices, with the potential for even more significant consequences to the global market. Prices have already climbed well above $100 US per barrel and are likely to exceed historic highs, due to anticipated international supply chain shocks coupled with high demand as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Increased cyber-attacks by Russian actors against Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are also likely with the potential to disrupt both governmental and private computer systems, communications networks and power distribution systems.

All these circumstances stand to affect some amount of global business aviation activity going forward. “The Ukraine crisis is having a direct effect on a relatively small share of overall flight activity,” noted a recent WingX Advance market report, “but the proliferation of sanctions will significantly complicate the whole business aviation market, especially in Europe, across the field from flight operations to charter brokerage, aircraft financing, management and maintenance.”

Industry remains resilient

Despite these challenges, I’m encouraged by the industry’s continued spirit of resilience and innovation that has served it so well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial analysts recognize this perseverance and remain generally optimistic about the sector: “We’re still bullish on business aviation,” stated one analyst to NBAA, with another predicting “…we’re going to finish the year better than where we started from a business perspective and economic perspective.”

The current situation underscores the timeliness of the upcoming 2022 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2022) Taking place from 23-25 May in Geneva, Switzerland, the first in-person EBACE since 2019 will offer a variety of sessions and other opportunities highlighting the very latest developments affecting business aviation in Europe and around the globe.

EBACE2022 is the place to experience new and future-forward aviation technologies, from an expansive outdoor aircraft display featuring more than 40 of the latest business aircraft – everything from high-tech small aircraft through ultra-modern intercontinental jets – to indoor exhibits of the advanced air mobility and eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft, state-of-the-art avionics and much more from all of the top manufacturers.

At EBACE, the European business aviation community may learn about how new advanced technologies will impact their business, and which innovations can help make them more profitable and sustainable, offering an important opportunity for attendees to engage with companies that are paving a new way in the business aviation marketplace.

Equally important, EBACE offers an opportunity for newcomers to the sector to learn more about how business aviation can suit their needs, not just in Europe, but anywhere around the world – perhaps especially in these tumultuous times.

On behalf of NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association, co-hosts of EBACE, we look forward to welcoming the global business aviation community back to Geneva for what promises to be an exciting look at the future of business.