CEPA Expo 2014 – connecting East and West

dagmar_cepa14Interview with Dagmar Grossmann, pioneer of business aviation in CEE region and CEPA founder.

What are the key messages you would like delegates to take from CEPA Expo 2014?

The key messages this year is how to cope with outside threats such as the crisis in Ukraine, the impact this has on
our industry in a relatively new and young market and, thirdly, what do both sides of the industry, CEE and West Europe have to do to overcome this. In addition we are looking at how to improve the network, support and the relationship between two strongly related but culturally separate areas.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing business aviation in Central Europe?

In the CEPA countries stability is very weak, and the West always tries to maintain their leading position. Take for
example Banks. The subsidiary banks are located in the CEPA countries whereas the main central banks are located in
France, Austria or Germany. This means that financing an aircraft can be very difficult sometimes, most of the risk managers see CEPA companies as a high risk or as new money and so they do not offer the same conditions. As for Ukraine, yes I understand that the new money has of course different origins. However when it comes to buying an aircraft, it does not matter if the bank approves it and in the case of the crisis, the CEPA countries not only suffered from various threats (with the embargo and the fact that many suppliers here have been left behind), but the very weak confidence was immediately broken. This made trading conditions worse with immediate effect. For business aviation industry in the CEPA region the repossession of some aircraft in Ukraine made it doubly hard
to conduct business in the region. That is a pity and still shows we have to work hard on the fact that as countries within the EU everyone should be equal, and within that structure the confidence and the conditions should be more favorable than outside the EU.

So far, what do you think has been CEPA’s greatest achievement?

Business aviation in CEE has developed into a most promising market and according to the personality, history and
culture of the UHNWI it will continue to do so. CEPA Expo and the CEPA organization has become an institution
that addresses all kinds of questions and delivers help to many successful ventures. Thanks to the positive work of CEPA there are many positive side effects. For example more investors are coming to the region and understand that the old iron curtain is just an illusion, Prague and other cities offer a lot of business opportunities and with less obstacles than anywhere else. We achieved a lowering of the barrier of entry in some countries and as Prague is centrally located we can encourage more business to the region. The CEPA EXPO, with all its participants over 5 years, can reduce cultural barriers and help the CEE in terms of growing and developing business aviation. This is what makes me personally very thankful and glad, it also shows that the work is very rewarding and creates a positive feeling about the region.

How would you compare CEPA with other business aviation associations?

CEPA is a “hands on” association and a provider of many benefits due to the growing influence it has on government
policies. However CEPA does not see itself to be lawmaking or lobbying institution, that is and was not the primary goal of the organization. CEPA connects, clarifies and supports the growing markets in the region, where
one market has become established and a new market is developing, possibly which has more business, CEPA acts a
bridge bring the two together. That is the essence of CEPA and what we will continue to develop.

Where do you see CEPA in 5 years time?

Looking back over the last five years, some shows, such as the third one, were a real breakthrough, when we invented
the CEPENGER and could involve the whole auditorium in the discussions. But we are a non-profit organization at CEPA
and with the legal structure of CEPA Expo we want to be sure that we just cover the expenses and continue to focus
all the enthusiasm on improving every year. As the event has grown visitors, exhibitors and participants love and
appreciate the attention to detail and the fact that we slowly move to become an institution. CEPA Expo attracts a
lot of attention to Prague and the City is very proud of this. Within the last 5 years we still do not have a comparable competitive show here in CEE and that shows that we cover mainly all topics of relevance to the area at CEPA Expo. The Chairman changes every year and the planning discussions are something that still keeps the CEPA Expo moving forward, not standing still. However sometimes it happens that the problems we want to address also have an impact on our organisation and this means we can take on the challenge and translate them to a higher level and use them as topics for discussion at CEPA EXPO. This is a challenge, but it works. In the next 5 years I see the CEPA EXPO as a bigger event but still with the same goals and objectives of delivering and supporting a thriving, buoyant aviation market in the region.

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