Watch our quick preview of BBGA’s annual conference here.
With business aviation seeing a strong rebound after the global pandemic, the sector’s carbon footprint is now under greater scrutiny than ever. Stakeholders must be more vocal in the measures they are taking to decarbonise the sector and challenge public perception – they need to build a stronger narrative around sustainability and climate challenge. That was part of the key messaging at this year’s British Business and General Aviation Association’s (BBGA’s) annual conference, which took place in London on 2 March.
It was a point that was made even more impactful when climate activists speaking out on behalf of Fossil Free London interrupted a presentation by James Hardie, BBGA board member and director of Course Correction, on how the perception of business aviation is affecting tomorrow’s workforce. The protests also followed an earlier session by Rana Walker, Co-Founder and Principal Consultant of GR&AT Management, in which she had underlined the need for greater collaboration and the power of social media platforms, such as TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram when used effectively to combat misinformation.
“Business aviation is often vilified, despite only being responsible for emitting 0.04% of global carbon emissions,” Walker said. “The industry needs to be more outspoken about what it is doing to address climate change.” She also told delegates that it’s not just business jet operators under attack either, airports are also often targeted as the ambassadors for aviation on the ground.
“Make sure you’re heard. Shout about what you’re doing, tout the benefits and make sure you’re offering sustainable options,” she urged. “It’s also important the industry listens and understands where these young climate activists are coming from. Find an educated activist to join your board.”
Referencing the Clean Skies for Tomorrow coalition, Walker noted that action is having an impact and that needs to be shared. “SAF production tripled in 2022,” she said, but more clearly needs to be done especially when it comes to “educating, informing and engaging” with a wider audience.
GearUp TV’s Liz Moscrop reinforced Walker’s message saying that through social media and video sharing platforms, the industry “has a huge opportunity to create our own story.” She explained that TikTok is now in 50 countries and has 1 billion users, while YouTube has a whopping 2.1 billion users.
Elsewhere throughout the day, topics covered the threat of closure for small airfields and aerodromes in the UK and the need to work together to protect these assets as vital infrastructure for general aviation. “Without protection from the top, this side of the industry will diminish,” said Steve Ford, Director Sky Harbour UK referencing the requirement for a long term strategy from government.
Staff recruitment and retention was also a key item for discussion with speakers that the pandemic has resulted in not only a skills shortage but also a shift in how people perceive the workplace and their role within it.