It might be hard to find a geographic sector more affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine than Europe. That’s the result of a combination of no-fly rules and economic sanctions that have impaired business aviation across the region, even as border restrictions weaken, and travel demand increases.
To help lessen the effect, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has been a key player in assisting foreign operators in navigating the crisis as best as possible. At its flagship event, The 2022 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this week, Steven Moore, head of air traffic management network operations at Eurocontrol, gave a window into the challenges operators were facing and how EBAA would continue to support them.
It’s not difficult to measure the direct effects of the war on business operations. As Moore pointed out, commercial flights that previously overflew Russian airspace have had to add hours to their routes, increasing their fuel bill, even as fuel prices skyrocket.
Meanwhile, Poland’s air traffic fell by 38 percent from February to March, according to Moore, owing to the increased military operations as multiple groups funnel aid to Ukraine through Poland. The loss of overflight and landing fees could add up and have a material long-term effect on the countries’ civil aviation funding and capability.
As Demand Increases, EBAA Urges Caution
WingX data also reported that airline flights from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus into the European area have evaporated, with 365 arrivals for the month through mid-May, down 63 percent compared to the same period three years ago.
However, demand for business jets across Europe through the first 23 days of May was 31 percent higher than last year and even 17 percent higher than pre-pandemic May 2019, primarily because of significant events such as EBACE and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, both underway, with higher turnouts than before.
However, in his session, Moore predicted a difficult summer for all operators and suggested that they exercise caution by filing flight plans and adhering to them.
Regarding the various sanctions across European countries that could expose operators to legal liabilities, EBAA’s COO Robert Baltus said his organization was doing its best to address the concerns. This is acutely in focus when dealing with Russian-associated aircraft, which Baltus urged operators not to engage lightly.
“Do not assume anything,” he said. And if an official permits you to take a particular action related to a sanctions-subject aircraft, “get it in writing.”