As we roll into 2011, I cannot help but be optimistic about the year ahead. We’ve arguably come through one of the toughest two-year downturns in aviation history. The fact that you received or picked up this magazine today most likely means you or your business has survived, though unfortunately many did not. There are cycles in every facet of life, aviation included. This cycle has been one of consolidation for some and pure grit and a will to survive for many others. While stressful and even painful to work through, these cycles play an important role in weeding out what has been, thus shaping our industry, forcing much-needed change in structure, processes, and innovation in an aviation industry that has historically dragged its feet in adapting to the future.
No segment of this unique business segment has been immune to changes these last two years. The Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), the association representing the interests of Florida aviation companies and aviation-minded individuals, has had to adapt and become creative, just like our member companies. Areas of focus for the association moved from member support and promotion to protection and defense. Looking to offset massive reductions in state revenue, several aviation businesses became targets of county or state taxing authorities looking for additional revenue streams through new interpretation of existing tax laws. So far, those companies have been successful in defending themselves from unwarranted new or additional taxes. Legislative activities over the last several years have been a growing and integral part of FATA’s role to protect aviation in Florida and may be for some time to come.
Even how the association markets itself has been forced to evolve, which has had some terrific results and great promise that may not have been realized otherwise. Two new programs have been launched. Beyond the Runway—Why General Aviation Means Business was launched recently to broaden overall awareness and, more importantly, the value and role the general aviation industry plays in everyday life. And the Aviation Advocacy program, designed to continue broadening the value and awareness campaign by allowing non-aviation companies with a personal or business interest in general aviation an introductory membership into the association. Both programs spawned from ideas in tough economic times to raise awareness in general aviation and to increase the size and health of an association that is dedicated to supporting and protecting Florida aviation.
Circling back to my opening sentence, I am excited about the opportunities that lay ahead in 2011. While a few member companies fell victim to the downturn, FATA added more new member companies that saw value and strength in the association. Support of the Florida Aviation Trades Association provides fuel for the survival and growth of Florida business aviation. As President of FATA, I want to personally thank our existing members and encourage anyone who has an aviation interest or aviation business in Florida to consider becoming a member of the Florida Aviation Trades Association. Look for some fantastic updates on our Advocacy Program, our Aviation Entrepreneurial Excellence Hall of Fame Award, and our FATA scholarship program in the months ahead. And of course, don’t forget to mark your calendar now for the FATA Annual Meeting, to be held June 13-15, 2011 at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida for an incredible rate of just $139 per night. You will gather and network with other industry leaders and aviation enthusiasts to share ideas, learn from several panel discussions, and build long-lasting relationships. I hope to see you there!
Regards, Robert Grant