• AOPA CEO Ben Morgan continued to produce AOPA Live seminars despite drawing no salary. (still from AOPA live video)
    AOPA CEO Ben Morgan continued to produce AOPA Live seminars despite drawing no salary. (still from AOPA live video)

AOPA Australia CEO Ben Morgan did not draw a salary from the association during the pandemic, agreeing to continue working for the organisation temporarily without being paid.

In a letter to all members, AOPA president Shaun Kelly said that Morgan's gesture was one of several measures that helped the organisation survive the downturn caused by COVID-19, and that AOPA was in a position to start re-building.

"With COVID-19 now in the rear view mirror and with the airlines and tourism travel restarting, pilots are going back to work and new pilots once again have a good chance of realising their dreams," Kelly said.

"And, AOPA is out there working for our members."

"During the height of the pandemic we were cognisant of the financial challenges faced by many of our members. We had a significant number of members who had become suddenly unemployed and for whom even $159.00 was a financial challenge.

"In recognition of this, we didn’t push for renewals. We battened down the hatches and reduced our outlays to ensure that we could remain solvent and able to serve our members.

"Falcon Air (owned by our Vice President Marc De Stoop) at Bankstown stepped up and offered us free office space, for which we are exceptionally grateful.

"Support staff was kept on with Jobkeeper, but when that ran out, we supported her in transitioning to another job.

"Ben Morgan, our CEO, agreed to temporarily work without pay. All of this was successful, and our bank account is in good shape.

"But, the time for defence has passed. We are ready to come back hard.

"Ben has been doing a great job of advocating for the needs of our members during this exceptionally difficult time and has had some major wins, including the advancement of medical reform for our general aviation community. 

"In parallel, there has been a broad body of advocacy to assist individual members on a range of key issues, along with a host of airports and regulatory matters."

Over the pandemic period, AOPA Australia stopped producing their online publication, which had been developed to replace the print magazine that was published for many years.

Morgan continued to produce AOPA Live videos and seminars and keep up advocacy efforts with regulators, councils and airport operators.

As part of the program to get revitalise AOPA, the board appointed well-known aviation advocate Lorraine McGillivray as Membership Manager.

"We have also committed to building our membership back," Kelly told the membership. "Toward that end we have welcomed Lorraine MacGillivray as our new Membership Manager.

"In this new role, Lorraine is responsible for assisting our members join and renew memberships, along with helping reconnect the association through email update, social media posts and website articles."

The AOPA AGM held in September revealed the membership had more than halved since the last full pre-pandemic year in 2019.

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