The Business jet rebound from lockdown lows is well-established as the market enjoys strong growth. Business jet activity in the first three weeks of March is 11% up on the same period last year, WINGX’s weekly Global Market Tracker shows. Activity is within 10% of the first three weeks in March 2019.
Only Europe still lags in March 2020 when the imposition of lockdowns and travel restrictions sent business jet activity levels down 50%. By contrast, global scheduled airline activity is 30% down and 40% lower than in 2019 with Europe suffering a 75% drop on 2019 levels.
North America is driving the global business jet recovery with rolling 7-day average activity back at a pre-pandemic pace last week – the 6,437 sectors flown on March 17th compares to 6,326 on a comparable day in March 2020 and 6,815 in March 2019.
Flight activity month to date in the US is up 17% compared to last year with Fractional operations, up 21%; Private owners and corporate flight department traffic up 15%; and Charter up 14%. Branded Charter operations in the US are up 16%, suggesting that we are now seeing record levels of activity.
Richard Koe, Managing Director of WINGX Advance, comments: “Beyond the lockdown anniversary in Europe and North America, we can now see the rebound from the low points and the recovery towards normal activity levels. For Europe, the rebound is in the early stages, particularly Western Europe. Outside Europe, normal flight activity has resumed. In the US, there are signs that business jet activity in 2021 may exceed 2019 activity in some States, particularly for the charter market.
Compared to March 2020, this month’s biggest rebound in the US is in Super-Mid and Midsize Jets, flying 20% more, and Very Light Jet, sectors up by 31% year on year.
As it has been throughout the pandemic, Florida is the hub for US flight activity, in contrast to its ranking below California and Texas pre-pandemic. Business jet and prop activity originating in Florida is trending 19% above the March 2020 peak, which was itself higher than any day in March 2019.
Charter demand has been the main driver, with this month’s trend peaking at 360 daily sectors, compared to a 304 peak in March 2020 and a high point of 246 daily sectors in March 2019. Miami-Opa has maintained its strong growth this month, departures up 50% year on year. Smaller Florida airports like Panama City Beach are seeing activity well up.
For the month so far, Business jet activity is close to comparable to March 2020, but peak activity this month – 320 daily sectors – compares to a peak of 406 just before lockdown last March, and an average in March 2019 of 355 flights a day.
There is some regional rebound this month, with flight activity in Italy up 150%, reflecting its early lockdown last March. The UK, which had a relatively late lockdown, and for which restrictions are now much stricter, is seeing more than a 50% reduction in business aviation activity this month. Indeed, trending daily activity in the UK is half what it was in July last year.
Austria is slightly up while Ukraine, Greece, Poland, are all seeing a growth of more than 20% compared to March 2020. Smaller markets such as Malta, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, and Latvia are also seeing strong year-on-year recoveries.
Business aviation out of Germany is down only 2%, with no other country seeing the same declines as the UK, although Switzerland and Netherlands are both trailing by 20%. At the airport level, whilst Ciampino and Malpensa have more than doubled moribund traffic in March 2020, the UK’s airports are operating under half-normal activity. Geneva, deprived of a ski season, is also well down on usual while Majorca is up 8% and Madrid Barajas departures are up 25% year on year.
REST OF THE WORLD FOCUS
The strongest markets are Russia and Turkey, which have been resilient throughout the pandemic. Business jet travel in these two countries is up 30% this month. Trending daily activity is also up 19% in March 2019.
Vnukovo has outranked Le Bourget in March activity, with 12% growth compared to March last year. Vnukovo’s activity is similar to Toluca, Mexico, which is trending down 36% this month. Nassau’s activity is also comparable and trending up 8% in March. Other leading airports for business jet departures include Al Maktoum where activity is more than double where it was in March 2020 and in March 2019.