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On Final: Embracing the challenges

When I first walked up to the podium to be introduced as the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s (CBAA) new president and CEO, I wasn’t sure what the members’ reception would be.


September 6, 2013
By Rudy Toering

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When I first walked up to the podium to be introduced as the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s (CBAA) new president and CEO, I wasn’t sure what the members’ reception would be. I understood the importance of the association to the business aviation community. I was honoured that the board of directors had chosen me to guide the CBAA through its next phase. I knew the issues were critical, and that the business aviation community was looking to its association for answers and action.

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There was never a question about whether the cbaa should exist, only discussions about what it needed to do.
PHOTO: Matt Nicholls


 

But, until I stood before our members and spoke to them during the convention, I didn’t fully appreciate the depth of their support and their willingness to work with us to get it right.

I didn’t have to tell them how important the CBAA is to their businesses – they told me. There was never a question about whether the CBAA should exist, only discussions about what it needed to do to provide the service and value they need. If we discussed the past – the repatriation of the Private Operator’s Certificate (POC) program, the association’s reorganization – it was in terms of turning the page and moving forward.

Both working alone and in partnership with other organizations, the CBAA had already garnered a number of significant wins for its members since it returned to being a true industry advocacy and service association. Here are a few examples: the Federal Court overturned a ruling that would consider a business aviation flight to be “publicly available” and subject to Canadian Transportation Agency’s economic authority if it flew private guests; the Canada Border Services Agency increased the number of passengers allowed on a business aviation flight to 39; the European Union declared a moratorium on its Emissions Trading Scheme for non-European flights.

The CBAA has made a great deal of progress in the past 18 months, but it goes without saying that with the new regulations coming down the pike, and other issues yet to be resolved, we are not resting on our laurels; in fact, we will be increasing our level of effort.

Working with the board and staff, I have committed to three priorities that not only will address our ongoing challenges, but should give CBAA a greater ability to advocate for and serve our members.

The first priority is to create a detailed plan with specific – and measurable – targets. I will be meeting with and speaking to members to be sure I fully understand their needs. The CBAA Chapters, always an important part of the association, will become even more important as we use their meetings as a focal point for grassroots input, to share information and to stay on top of concerns. Not all issues are Ottawa-based. For example, we will be working with our Chapters to develop a national strategy to deal with de-icing – something that affects members’ operations and bottom line at airports across the country.

The next priority is to ensure that politicians, regulators and the public understand the true value of business aviation. We intend to showcase our economic contributions, and in doing so, increase awareness and respect for our sector with a fact-based economic impact study that quantifies the significance of business aviation to Canada. This initiative will provide decision-makers with the facts they need to incorporate the unique operational aspects of business aviation into their policy and regulatory decisions.

We will approach the government from a position of strength and with the idea that we share mutual goals, and can find mutually acceptable solutions. Over the past two years, the CBAA has built a solid reputation with Transport Canada as a responsible and forthright voice for business aviation. We will not always agree, of course, but we understand that at the end of the day, both the CBAA and the government want outcomes that encompass the needs of both industry and government.

My final and most important priority is to communicate – and increase – the value of the CBAA to members and those who might be sitting on the fence. We are reviewing every activity – including how and what we communicate, the quality of our members-only services, the value of the annual convention, and more. Nothing is off the table, and everything is open to improvement. 

Although I have been in this position a relatively short time, I have already learned a lot – and with members’ input and guidance, I will continue to learn and act on your behalf. As I said my first day on the job, my promise to you is simple. The value of the CBAA to the members will increase; I recommend a “buy” position.


Rudy Toering is the newly elected president/CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association.


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