Aviation Business News

Insight reveals highest private aviation activity in the US since pandemic began

PrivateFly - private aviation, business jets

The US has recorded its second highest daily activity for private aviation since the pandemic began, WingX’s weekly Global Market Tracker shows.

The tracker shows that business aviation activity globally is holding up with 177,835 flights in the first half of this month (March) down by just 2 per cent on the same period last year. Compared to a 38 per cent drop in global airline activity compared to the first two weeks of March 2020 while global cargo activity continues to grow, up 17 per cent in terms of sectors operated.

It added that there is some good news on total flight activity, it says that Asia is now up 30 per cent on the lows of last year when lockdowns started.

However it said that more than 80 per cent of this month’s worldwide business aviation flights originated in the North American market and the busiest US state for charter demand is Florida with almost double the number of flights compared to the next busiest, California. At least five airports in Florida are seeing more than 25 per cent growth in departures compared to last year.

WingX Advance’s managing director, Richard Koe, said: “On 15 March, the post-pandemic rolling seven-day activity in the US peaked at 6,002 daily sectors; that is the second highest daily activity since January 2020.  Operators in the European market will be hoping to see the same effect when restrictions are finally lifted this summer, especially in the UK where business jet sectors are down 62 per cent.

It found that the United States is recovering fastest, with the first half of March up by 0.5 per cent in terms of sectors, while trailing 2 per cent in flight hours. Compared with the start of lockdown restrictions last year business jet traffic is up in Private, Fractional, Management and Branded Charter activity. Fractional activity is up by most, with a 4 per cent overall gain including 10 per cent growth in Light Jets and 20 per cent growth in Very Light Jets.

NetJets and Flexjet are up this month as are smaller operators such as AirShare and PlaneSense. The busiest airports for Fractional operators are Palm Beach and Dallas Love Field.

The US charter market continues to be buoyant; up to the anniversary of the lockdowns, branded charter operators in the US have increased sectors by 3 per cent in 2021. The Entry Level and Very Light Jets have very strong growth this year with sectors up by 20 per cent. Midsize and Super midsize jet flight hours are up close to 10 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Heavy Jet operations in the charter market are still down by 12 per cent and Ultra-Long-Range hours are down by 25 per cent.

It also found that European flight activity is still well below pre-pandemic trends, with the total fleet declining more than 60 per cent in the first half of March and airlines seeing the steepest drop with flights down by 72 per cent. Business aviation is relatively robust at 16 per cent below normal while cargo operations are almost 15 per cent up year on year.

WingX’s tracker also found that private and corporate flight departments are by far the most robust – just 1 per cent below normal in March. Recovery in private operations is most evident in Spain, Austria, Russia, Turkey, and Italy, with the bounce in Italy already accounting for lockdowns in place a year ago. Activity in Poland, Greece, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia is well ahead of the first half of March 2020.

Vnukovo in Russia is the busiest airport for business jet activity this month, with a slight YOY increase, with Le Bourget in second place with departures down by 30 per cent year on year. The busiest connection from Vnukovo is to Al Maktoum in Dubai followed by Sochi, St Petersburg, Riga, and Kazan. Other European pairs with strong growth include flights between Milan and Rome up by 80 per cent on the lockdown period while business jet flights between Larnaca and Tel Aviv are well up year on year. The Turboprop segment is the only one which shows some increase on early March 2020.

The tracker also showed that more than half (53 per cent) of this month’s business aviation activity is turboprop, with much of this in Australia.

Mexico is the busiest market for business jet traffic, with sectors down by 20 per cent and Canada the next busiest with 31 per cent less activity year on year while Brazil is also falling behind early-year trends this month.

Business jet activity in India, Nigeria, China, UAE is well up against March 2020 and there is still strong leisure demand, with flights out of Turks and Caicos up by 26 per cent, and Maldives arrivals up by more than three times compared to pre-pandemic when travel restrictions were introduced on March 12, 2020 In the wider Asian region, the seven-day rolling average activity is back up to February 2020 levels.

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