Economy, Politics Take Center Stage at NBAA 2008
As the stock market plunged in the backdrop, the 61st NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention opened today in Orlando, Fla., with the business aviation industry booming, but with attendees looking over their shoulders as they wait apprehensively for the boom to fall. The news is not all bad; industry forecasts predict a record number of deliveries this year and maybe even next year, with a slight trough expected in 2010. But at the media breakfast before the Opening General Session, GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said his association members are concerned about the credit crunch and are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. “Nobody knows quite yet what is happening and companies are now looking for solutions to protect themselves in the future.” Echoing this thought, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen quoted Yogi Berra, adding, “Prediction is very hard, especially about the future.” Politics took center stage at the Opening General Session after Bolen introduced the nation’s most well-known political couple, Mary Matalin, Republican advisor, and her outspoken Democratic husband, James Carville. Before Matalin and Carville spoke, ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez acknowledged business aviation’s important place in the overall aviation industry, mentioning that more than 25,000 turbine-powered aircraft are operated by more than 17,000 companies worldwide.