BizAv and Airport Congestion: Global airport congestion is currently at an all-time high, particularly at political and economic hubs. A major challenge for the entire aviation community, it has particular ramifications for business aviation operators. Though workable solutions are being explored by experts, it is a long road ahead. Here are some of my thoughts on the situation, and why I think business aviation needs to be prioritized more in the future.
The massive increase in air travel over the past decades has seen capacity at many of the world’s most established and popular airports reach saturation point. And this increase is projected to compound over the coming years (both in commercial and general aviation). Unfortunately, expansion isn’t always possible at these hubs because of numerous issues (lack of land being one). As a result, airport facilities such as slots, runways, and parking, are insufficient to satisfy demand: there are simply too many aircraft wanting access at any given time. Airport authorities have their work cut out for them, and business aviation operators complain of commercial airlines always getting priority.
We’re all familiar with the user-benefits of business aviation: flexibility, connectivity, efficiency, and security to name a few. However, what’s lesser-discussed is the hugely positive impact it has on economies. This extends beyond the industry-specific support services of ground handling, MROs, OEMs, etc. to other services such as catering, ground transport, and hospitality. The commercial activity filters down to form a solid economic ecosystem.
Various studies by GAMA and the NBAA estimate that the general aviation industry contributes approximately 200 billion USD to the American economy every year and supports over 1 million jobs. According to the EBAA, over 370,000 European jobs rely on the industry and it contributes €32 billion EUR to the European economy annually. MEBAA maintains that the business aviation sector provides an estimated 430,000 jobs and contributes $97.5 billion USD annually to the economy of the Middle East. So, it’s clear that a healthy business aviation sector means a healthier local, regional, and international economy.
Considering the economic benefits a strong business aviation sector brings, it deserves more support. The continued dominance of commercial airlines at travel hubs could eventually freeze-out business operators altogether. Airport authorities should take note and remember there’s enough room at the table for everyone.