July 8, 2020

While COVID-19 has presented a multitude of challenges to citizens and communities worldwide, the crisis has also demonstrated the importance of legislators, regulators and industry working together to find solutions to pandemic driven challenges.

That was the message from NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, delivered in a panel discussion during the Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) Global 2020 virtual conference on July 8. “We are pleased that lawmakers and regulators recognize that business aviation is critical to our nation’s economy and our transportation infrastructure, and they’re taking necessary steps to make sure that we not only survive, but ourselves in a position to thrive when the coronavirus challenge has been met.”

By way of example, Bolen pointed to the work NBAA and other associations did to ensure the concerns of the business aviation community were addressed on Capitol Hill under the CARES Act. Learn more about key provisions in the act for general aviation businesses.

Tim Obitts, CEO of the National Air Transportation Association, and fellow CJI panel participant, agreed with Bolen, adding that the associations’’ advocacy work had been bolstered by members’ mobilization: “Our community has built a culture of activism. When we ask our members to make their voices heard [with policymakers], we have a community that will do that, and that has captured the attention of lawmakers and regulators.”

Obitts also noted that, in addition to providing critical humanitarian relief throughout the pandemic, demand for business aviation travel has grown in part from the number of people seeking travel alternatives in the COVID-19 environment. “People are now clamoring to come to business aviation and to use these vehicles of change,” Obitts said.

The aviation leaders observed that sustainability continues to be another important area for inter-association cooperation, with Bolen noting the business aviation community has worked for decades to improve its environmental footprint. “We are committed to sustainable flying,” he said. “We’re the part of the industry where GPS was adopted very early on, where winglets and composite technology began. It’s something that’s very important to all of us.” Read more about the industry’s commitment to sustainability.

The panel’s third participant, European Business Aviation Association Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan, echoed the comments from Bolen and Obitts regarding the importance of unity in effective advocacy.

“This is an industry that can lead, particularly in these areas we’re discussing today,” he said. “There’s a lot on our plates … [but] on the other hand, there are opportunities here that we can tap into, and that’s what we’re focusing on. I’m pretty upbeat about the way that we can shape this industry in the future.”

Though the panel focused largely on the challenges of this COVID moment, Bolen concluded on an optimistic note. “Oftentimes, business aviation has been a trailing indicator of recovery,” Bolen added. “I think there’s a sense that, this time, we can lead, facilitate and foster that recovery. Our members can actually lead the sprint and hand off the baton as we go forward.”