EVA spoke with The Irish Business and General Aviation Association’s Josh Stewart ahead of the organisation’s second annual conference at Adare Manor, County Limerick, on 1 November
On 15 June 1919, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown touched their modified Vickers Vimy bomber down at Clifden, County Galway, Ireland, at the end of the first ever non-stop transatlantic flight. It was not the neatest landing, but it placed Ireland at the centre of international aviation.
The country has remained there, to a greater or lesser extent, ever since and as the Irish Business and General Aviation Association (IBGAA) heads towards its second annual conference on 1 November, Founding Chairman Josh Stewart explains how he wants Ireland’s business aviation community to take what he sees as its rightful, elevated place in the industry.
“Ireland has punched above its weight in global aviation,” he says. “Shannon has a long history including the first duty free on flights to the US and first US pre-clearance. We want to make it bigger. A majority of the world’s leased commercial aircraft fleet is also on the Irish register, but the business and general aviation element has been under-represented. That’s why we formed the association three years ago.”
General aviation takes an important role in the IBGAA’s vision, in its own right and as a pipeline into business aviation for pilots, technicians and others. “Helicopters are also important in Ireland, and we’ve joined up with the luxury hotels,” Stewart continues. “The Ryder Cup is coming to Ireland in 2027 and we want to make sure the country’s ready to welcome the celebrities and potential investors who visit for the competition. We need to maximise the opportunity. It’s also why we’re holding our conference at Adare Manor, one of the world’s top hotels.”
With its position as the last English-speaking EU country, neutrality, long aviation history, skilled workforce and strong US ties, Stewart sees Ireland as the ideal location to base business aircraft. “We want to see aircraft and AOCs based back in Ireland. We’re promoting Ireland as a centre of excellence, as a venue for high-value tourism, with business aviation simultaneously setting an example by using the SAF that the airlines can’t afford.
“We’re working on a business aviation roadmap with all the stakeholders, reinforcing the message that although we’re small, we have a seat on the EBAA board in Brussels and at IBAC in Montreal. We have a global audience and we’re promoting Ireland. That’s what our annual conference is all about.”