Top Ten Leaders Of European Business Aviation


The annual Business & Commercial Aviation ShowNews listing of the Top 10 Leaders of European Business Aviation has now been published at EBACE 2012.

We pick the movers and shakers, those who are helping create demand for business aviation through clever manufacturing and innovation, those who are influential in polishing business aviation’s image with the public and politicians alike, and those who are fighting to protect it from unfair regulation. Here is a round-up of our 2012 top ten list (in alphabetical order). Read the full feature in ShowNews.

Roland Bosch, project manager, AERO Friedrichshafen

Bosch this year celebrated his 20th year as project leader for AERO Friedrichshafen, dubbed “the Oshkosh of Europe.”

In 1989 the show was held on an old fairground in the middle of the southern German town of Friedrichshafen. Aircraft were towed by road from the airport a mile away, and the 10 exhibition halls held mostly gliders and microlights. Today’s 85,000 square meter purpose-built convention center is adjacent to Friedrichshafen airport and the covers everything from gliders, ultralights and electric-powered aircraft to business jets.

Phil Dykins, head of international air services, U.K. Department for Transport

Dykins has been involved in drafting the aviation policy for the 2012 Olympic Games for the last two-and-a-half years, and is expecting up to 120 Head-of-State aircraft to fly into London for the games.

“We know from experience that the ability of airports in the southeast of England to accommodate additional large aircraft on the ground is limited,” Dykins says.

Adding to the potential bottlenecks is RAF Northolt. Heads of State will fly into Northolt, but it cannot handle the largest aircraft and will also be the base for a detachment of Typhoons tasked with protecting London’s airspace during the Olympics.

“Our advice is not to bring the biggest aircraft, and book early or risk missing out.”

Richard Gaona, CEO, Comlux Aviation Group

The European business aviation charter market is in a “trough,” and not expected to be any better this year than it was in 2011, according to Gaona. “I would say that BBJ and ACJ business jet charter is no longer in western Europe but is now centered in the Middle East and Russia, where customers are still flying in these aircraft types.”

Comlux now bases its aircraft and crews in Moscow, Kazakhstan, and Bahrain. Gaona says the company is also eyeing an Asian base to keep its 21-aircraft fleet fully employed.

Brian Humphries, president, EBAA  

In the fight against the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, Humphries is fighting to get the small-emitter threshold raised. “That won’t mean raising the level for inclusion, but will mean these operators can use simplified procedures from next year as long as they emit less than 25,000 tonnes,” he says.

With the Italian government planning to charge 5% of the value of any foreign aircraft staying in the country longer than 48 hours, business aviation activity levels fell 10%, says Humphries. “We’ve now managed to change this to 45 days to allow for tech stops and maintenance.”

John Kelsey-Fry QC, director, FlairJet

Together with fellow QCs Ian Winter and Nicholas Purnell, the highly-acclaimed celebrity defense barrister Kelsey-Fry invested in a startup business jet charter operation in the midst of a recession.

The idea came from pilot David Fletcher in 2008 when the Embraer Phenom 100 was causing a stir. “David’s original idea was to buy a Phenom 100 and charter it out,” Kelsey-Fry told ShowNews. They eventually decided to go the route of managing other people’s aircraft, which is still at the heart of FlairJet’s philosophy.

FlairJet currently operates two Phenom 100s and a Phenom 300, all under management.

Wing Commander Dawn Lindsey, director of Olympic airspace policy, U.K. Civil Aviation Authority

Airspace planning for the 2012 Olympic Games began four years ago for Wing Commander Dawn Lindsey when she was seconded from the Royal Air Force. The airspace restrictions will deliver what the government wants, but minimize the impact on general aviation, says Lindsey. “A workable solution has been achieved, and people within the business aviation community are very positive about it.”

Lindsey says the toughest part of her assignment has been trying to keep operators happy. “I’ve visited virtually every airfield in southeast England at some stage. A challenge has been keeping on track time-wise because at the end of the day our final deadline, the opening ceremony, is not going to move.”

Judith Moreton, general manager, Jet Aviation

Moreton was recently appointed in her role, based in Biggin Hill where she is charged with leading Jet Aviation’s U.K. expansion strategy.

Formerly managing director of Bombardier’s Skyjet International business jet program, Moreton was responsible for business management and European operations. She led Skyjet into major international expansion in the Middle East and Asia Pacific before Bombardier sold the company to VistaJet in 2008.

Niall Olver, CEO, ExecuJet Aviation Group

Over the last two years, despite the global financial crisis, Zurich-based ExecuJet has opened FBOs in Spanish territories, at Paris Le Bourget, Istanbul, Cambridge, Frankfurt, Melbourne and Wellington, New Zealand.

ExecuJet’s China joint venture at Tianjin, opening in July, will be only the second business aircraft maintenance base in the country. “The next part of the plan is to gain a China AOC with our partner Tianjin Haite so that we can offer business aircraft management and charter,” says Olver. “The only major expansion that we have in mind for the near and foreseeable future is in Asia.”

Steve Varsano, founder, The Jet Business

Varsano has a unique method of selling business jets. He’s literally opened a shop, The Jet Business, in London’s Belgravia, midway between The Ritz Hotel and Harrods.

A third of his visitors are new to the business, and he says the showroom has the potential to reach 10-15% of a currently untapped market.

Four months into business the company has a number of “letters of intent” in the pipeline.

Alec Werner, director of corporate affairs, NetJets Europe

Werner works closely with the EBAA in the engagement effort in Brussels. His recent focus has been the EU Airports package, and part of this is the slots regulation, which actively discriminates against business aviation in terms of priority at congested airports. “Last year the European Commission suggested a rewrite of this, so it is an opportunity to correct the balance for business aviation and give us more favorable access to the most congested airports in Europe,” says Werner.

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