First Meeting of NBAA Leadership Council, EBAA Ambassadors Looks to Future of Transatlantic Ops

20 May 2021

Members of the NBAA Leadership Council and the newly formed EBAA Ambassadors Program, which includes executives from the largest business aviation companies in Europe, met for an inaugural discussion focused on transatlantic operations in the post-COVID environment on the opening day of the 2021 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) Connect.

Citing results from his association’s recent survey of members’ expectations of the future, EBAA Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan noted 82% of those surveyed expect a spike in demand in the near future, while almost 60% of members planned to hire new staff in the next six months to meet that demand.

“If it becomes true, it will translate itself most aggressively in the long haul, North Atlantic and transatlantic operations,” Khan added. “We know what’s coming … And now it’s up to us as an industry to prepare ourselves to best capitalize on those future opportunities.”

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen agreed that COVID-19 has pushed the industry “in new and different ways, but it’s also giving us an opportunity to show the world that we’re an industry that can create jobs and provide economic development, all over the world, including some new markets that weren’t previously considered business capitals.

“We’re helping companies to be efficient, productive, safe and healthy,” he added.

While many company flight operations paused their flying as the coronavirus spread throughout the world, it provided others with the opportunity to demonstrate their importance to executives. Sean Lee, vice-president for global general services at Coca-Cola, recounted flying personnel from Italy to Costa Rica last year to support opening a new plant.

“There were no commercial flights,” Lee said, “but in steps the aviation department saying, ‘I think we can do this.’ We expanded our portfolio and demonstrated what ‘the art of the possible’ is to the executive staff.”

VistaJet COO Nick van der Meer applauded “the very pragmatic approach by the USA” in responding to COVID-19, but lamented requirements in Europe and other parts of the globe that often necessitated crews wait in isolation for hours for test results after completing a long duty day.

He further noted “a 600% increase” in emails associated with each flight planned by his company in the current environment. “I don’t think we can fix the world,” van der Meer said, “but if we could look at Europe particularly and see how we can, harmonize [policies] moving forward that would be a great first step in improving things.”

Learn more about the EBAA Ambassadors Program.

Learn more about the NBAA Leadership Council.