Gray skies and threatening thunderstorms couldn’t dampen spirits at EBACE 2018 in Geneva. The mood was buoyant and the good feeling that came out of NBAA-BACE in October has clearly extended to Europe, as demonstrated by the show’s big announcements.
The Show Daily publications touted the unveiling of Bombardier’s Global 5500 and 6500 aircraft as ‘business aviation’s best-kept secret’, bringing upgraded options to the super-large and ultra-long-range market segments. Concurrently, Rolls Royce announced its re-entry to business aviation with the Pearl engine that will power the two Bombardier business jets.
Embraer’s press conference saw the announcement that the OEM is to become the first business jet customer for ViaSat’s Ka-band in-flight connectivity service, delivering 16MBps to the aircraft, enabling passengers to stream content and live TV – a bonus for the longer journeys that passengers are making.
With these positive announcements at the start of the week, it was no wonder that the mood was upbeat. The topic that everyone kept coming back to is that Europe is a great place for business aviation at the moment and Gulfstream cemented this with the news at EBACE that it has chosen TAG Farnborough Airport in the UK as the location for its next service center.
This market confidence may be thanks to increasingly clear skies for the region’s economy. Europe is home to one of the world’s youngest fleets, with business jets averaging just 14.5 years old. Such a youthful group of aircraft is usually seen only in emerging markets like Asia or the Middle East, signaling a steadily expanding economy. The latest forecasts support this, with 2.3% GDP growth anticipated in the Euro Area for 2018.
Opportunities for investment are plentiful and varied, thanks to the way the market differs between Western, Central and Eastern Europe. A mature market in the West, bolstered by financial ‘alpha’ cities such as Paris, London, Brussels and Frankfurt, is counterbalanced by emerging markets across the border. Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia are three such countries where business jet usage is starting to rise, giving OEMs room to grow across the continent.
The industry is set to see more action in the coming months. Summer spikes power Europe’s bizav market for the rest of the year, with travelers arriving from across the globe to enjoy the events that mark height of the season: Wimbledon in London; the Monaco Yacht Show; and this year, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Despite the downpour at this year’s EBACE, the outlook is sunny for European business aviation.