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Business aviation faces new challenges as international flying resumes

Ed Bolen
President & CEO, NBAA

It’s very encouraging to see international business aviation flight operations climbing once again to more typical levels following 2 years of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, while this is certainly cause for optimism, we must also acknowledge the challenges that remain in this particular moment for our world.

planesCertainly, the pandemic has underscored how business aviation provides optimal point-to-point control over the health and safety of passengers and crew. It has also highlighted the industry’s value as a force multiplier that opens doors, boosts efficiency and productivity, and helps companies everywhere to succeed – all important messages to carry forward in our post-Covid future.

Even as we’re fortunate to be returning now to relatively normal operations, it’s clear that many of the innovations adopted to support pandemic-era flying will have benefits to business aviation travel going forward.

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine also continues to affect the industry across multiple levels, from the immediate and long-term impact on operations, to broader concerns including geopolitics, banking transactions, asset management, and cybersecurity.

Airspace closures have already been disruptive to established traffic patterns throughout the region. Routing restrictions and diversions around Russia and Ukraine airspace make it more important than ever to be fully aware of your operational environment, and to have a robust network supporting your international operations, including reputable trip support vendors and respected intelligence and flight handling providers.

ukraineThe Ukrainian crisis also carries ramifications across many other parts of our industry, including additional stress on the global supply chain that will likely affect production rates during a time of high demand for new aircraft, and strain availability of certain components.

International sanctions against Russia also carry significant implications for aircraft transactions, and place

renewed emphasis on the importance of vetting buyers and sellers to ensure no blocked entities are party to the arrangement.

Of course, we’ve also seen fuel prices climb significantly, with the potential for even greater consequences to the global market. Increased cyberattacks by Russian actors against Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are also likely, with the potential to disrupt both governmental and private computer systems, communications networks, and power distribution systems.

Despite this uncertainty, I remain confident the spirit of resilience and innovation displayed across our industry during the pandemic will continue to propel us toward a future filled with leading-edge technologies and other advances for our industry.

For example, on the immediate horizon, it’s clear that a forward-thinking mindset will be at the center of the upcoming European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) taking place May 23–25 in Geneva, Switzerland. EBACE 2022 will be more than just a moment to get back together.

It will be an unparalleled opportunity to explore new opportunities, new business models, and new ways of thinking about how our sector can operate more safely, securely, and sustainably in the years to come.

On behalf of NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association, co-hosts of EBACE, I look forward to welcoming Professional Pilot magazine readers to Geneva for what promises to the best EBACE yet.