EBACE – addressing sustainability amid protests

Protecting visitors and the integrity of the show and its exhibits was always going to be a priority at this year’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) given recent high-profile protests targeting the business aviation sector worldwide. Organisers EBAA and NBAA had made sustainability the main theme of the show, held in Geneva from 23 to 25 May, but protests by climate activists were predicted.

Although the Swiss authorities had issued a permit for a protest near the entrance of the Palexpo exhibition centre at the end of the show’s opening day, the organisers were forced to respond much earlier than planned. At 11.30am protesters breached security and accessed the static aircraft display at Geneva Airport.

Seven protesters wearing safety vests marked ‘ban private jets’ managed to handcuff themselves to a Gulfstream in the static park. This illegal security breach forced the airport to close for just under an hour, with arriving aircraft having to burn additional fuel while in holding patterns. Greenpeace claimed that up to 100 protesters representing various groups had taken part in the actions.

Both the EBAA and NBAA strongly condemned the protests and the dangers they represented to visitors and exhibitors. They pointed to the fact that the Palexpo centre is powered entirely by renewable energy and all energy use during the show was tracked and carbon offset. In addition, bizav was at the forefront of developing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the event’s three-day Sustainability Summit had been specifically designed to demonstrate and promote alternative technologies.

The key message from EBACE 2023 is that it should not be remembered for the protests, but for its role in showcasing sustainability and displaying bizav’s continued drive for change and commitment to new eco-friendly technology. The static park featured more than 50 aircraft from all the major OEMs and featured debuts by the Gulfstream G800, Airbus ACJ TwoTwenty and the Bombardier Challenger 3500.

Summing up EBACE 2023, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said: “We saw amazing new aircraft announced and debuted … We had a first-hand look at the fuels, propulsion systems and technologies that will lead to net-zero flight … EBACE showed us all that is possible today, and how our shared vision will shape tomorrow.”

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