Isle of Man and Kingdom of Bahrain are facing similar challenges

The Kingdom of Bahrain and the Isle of Man are facing similar challenges making this one of the reasons why they have recently signed a tax treaty, according to director of Douglas-based ICM Aviation Ltd Mark Byrne.

“Whilst it may not be obvious to persons from larger countries it is remarkable how similar the challenges affecting Bahrain and the Isle of Man as small island countries are.”

His comments came on his return from Bahrain where he was guest speaker at the Future of Business Jets in the Middle East conference which was focused on the growing Middle Eastern marketplace for business jets and the issues affecting the region.

Mr Byrne spoke about the UK and the Isle of Man’s new VAT rules and how they affect aircraft operators in the region. He also touched on the impact of EU ETS on the aviation industry.

“It was refreshing to go to an aviation conference outside Europe and meet some new people, in particular representatives from the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Affairs who were most hospitable hosts. Speaking with the Bahrainis gave me, as a citizen of one island, an insight into issues affecting their island.”

Mr Byrne said that while many issues were considered at the conference the principal conclusions he drew from the event were that even in the Middle East there was a downturn in demand for business aircraft, and particularly charters, immediately following the credit crunch but that demand is slowly returning, albeit at reduced margins.

“The charter market believes itself to be plagued by so-called grey charters,” said Mr Byrne. “I say so-called, because it seems to me that there is no ‘grey’ because either an operator has an AOC, is properly insured and regulated and is legally allowed to offer third party charters, or it is not. It is black and white.

“Many AOC holders at the conference were obviously feeling aggrieved that their regulators were not taking sufficient measures to combat this problem. Others felt that whilst that may be true, the industry through MEBA cold be doing more to combat the problem by educating buyers of ‘grey charters’ that they were taking a risk flying with unlicensed operators and that by doing so their insurances were likely to be compromised.

“Other notable conclusions I drew from the event is that the Middle East market will continue to grow as one of the world’s aviation hotspots and that the region has the world’s largest appetite for large and wide bodied business aircraft.”

ICM Aviation Ltd

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