We will bounce back (first) - EBAA
Reporting by Alison Chambers
Whether it is weeks or months, we will bounce back. If there is an opportunity in this crisis we seize it,” EBAA Secretary General Athar Husain Khan stated yesterday, speaking on Aviation International’s News webinar (7th April) together with Pete Bunce, President and CEO of GAMA and Jeff Lake, COO of Duncan Aviation.
"In many ways business aviation operators, being agile, flexible, adaptable, will be able to get back up to strength quicker than the airlines. I really do think we can come out of this stronger and help shape the change. We just need to be prepared. Just before the lockdowns a lot of people were relying on business aviation for repatriation when the airlines started their grounding.
"Come the rebound we expect to see more people wanting a more protected (safer) travel environment when the travel restrictions are lifted. Last week, together with GAMA and with the the support of national business aviation associations EBAA wrote an open letter on the impact of COVID-19 on the bizav sector directed at the Commission and EASA.
"In Europe one third of business aviation operators have stopped flying all together and 25% of the 130 CEOs surveyed last week acknowledged they have furloughed or laid off staff, Athar said. Yet the industry is showing its resilience in providing medical, cargo and repatriation flights. We have shown and are showing our potential, despite traffic falling off 72% across Europe, said Athar.
Pete Bunce at GAMA described the situation as “living in a movie’” but he has been amazed at the resilience of GAMA members and how they have pulled together. “Business aviation is a key element for economic recovery and we welcome the fact that regulators have been co-operative,” he noted.
|EBAA Secretary General Athar Husain Khan|
With most of the infrastructure and workers shut down in the US, some companies have been able to run a modified schedule, equipped with full protective gear. While the bigger MROs are trying to be available as an essential service, smaller suppliers are struggling with workforce issues.
Jeff Lake at Duncan Aviation said his company was continuing to work on a number of aircraft, despite activity dropping off in some areas. Its aircraft sales and acquisition teams are actually busy. He advocated: “if possible, keep your workforce going, even at reduced hours. One thing we learned from the 2008 recession was to cross-train our team members so they would be able to move from a slower shop to an area that is busier. This gives us more flexibility.”
Will there be a shortage of workers post COVID-19, asked moderator AIN’s Charles Alcock? The panel agreed that those furloughed will be back and there are a lot of new sectors opening up, especially in the eVTOL and UAV sector.
Electricification and hybrid projects are still ongoing. Duncan Aviation has begin offering a new service, aircraft disinfection, that it offers when aircraft arrive for work and again before they deliver. In addition, the company expects growth in the installation of on-board air cleaning systems that clean and disinfect air during flight.
Signs of recovery
There are bright spots ahead in this COVID-19 battle both GAMA and EBAA highlighted. In the US Washington DC and Maryland area graph shows that adhering to social distancing and home working is keeping down the number of COVID-19 cases. A couple of European countries are relaxing the lockdown, starting with Austria - and Denmark.
A key concern, after workers, is the supply chain and transportation of parts, challenged owing to borders closing.
The next AIN Webinar will focus on the supply chain with speakers Aaron Hollander, CEO, First Aviation and Todd Winter, President of Mid Continent. It will run next Wednesday, 14th April at 17:00hrs.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 9th April 2020 | Issue #552
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