April 23, 2012

A long-time business aviation advocate and former NBAA president is assisting with the formation of the African Business Aviation Association (AFBAA). Organizers hope the group will be instrumental in promoting business aviation within the continent and on the global stage.

Jack Olcott, who served as president of NBAA for 11 years, is serving as a consultant to help structure AFBAA’s mission statement, bylaws and policies. “Having an ‘umbrella’ organization allows the African business aviation community to speak with one voice, and have the gravitas that I think is important for advocating the benefits of this form of transportation,” Olcott said. “This will be a very positive development for Africa, and for the global business aviation community.”

Tarek Ragheb, a senior marketing advisor to business jet manufacturer Gulfstream, has led the drive for the creation of a pan-African organization. A U.S. citizen of Egyptian origin, Ragheb was also involved in the formation of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) for which Olcott also served as advisor. Approximately 10 operators and manufacturers have been involved in the AFBAA process to date, starting with an initial meeting in December 2011.

In addition to MEBAA, which represents business aviation interests for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Business Aviation Association of Southern Africa (BAASA) represents operators in that country. That leaves most of the rest of the continent unrepresented, Olcott noted. “Everyone in business aviation has a common objective: to increase acceptance of business aviation as a valid form of transportation,” he said. “We don’t see this as competition with other groups, but rather as collaboration.

“There is precedent, as EBAA [the European Business Aviation Association] has been very effective in broader Europe, though there are regional European associations as well,” Olcott noted. “North African operators could benefit from additional representation, and the feeling is that a more Africa-centric organization would be beneficial to the area as a whole.”

Following an April 18 review of the governing documents, the inaugural participants in AFBAA will gather at the upcoming European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2012), which is to be held from May 14 to 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. There, the group’s governing documents will be agreed upon in principle, and the organization will be formally announced. “The position of chairman and formal establishment of the board is [also] expected to be codified at EBACE,” Olcott added.

Olcott expects AFBAA to be a strong representative for African business aviation interests as well as for the industry worldwide. “Everything we want to achieve for business aviation and in business aviation is built upon a foundation of acceptance,” he concluded. “Everyone benefits when there is greater acceptance of business aviation and its benefits, which helps to communicate with and educate government officials as well.”