Coronavirus: Business aviation recovery continues despite localized outbreaks

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The business aviation sector continued its recovery from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic during June, with a stronger performance expected during the coming month .

According to data analytics and consulting company WingX’s Global Monitoring Tracker, business aviation activity is trailing the comparable 2019 period by 30%, showing the sector is more resilient than global scheduled flight activity, which is down by almost 50% so far this year.

Richard Koe, managing director of WingX said, “The recovery in flight activity has hit a fragile period where lockdown-lifts are getting stuttered due to secondary localised virus outbreaks. But overall, June’s 30% year-on-year decline was a clear improvement on May´s 50% slump.

“Assuming that the opening up of economies can be resumed, we would expect stronger recovery in July, driven primarily by leisure travel in small and midsize jets. So far, much of the recovery has come from aircraft owners, but we would expect the mid-summer to see a much stronger comeback in the charter market.“

The North American market has had the largest rebound since the global slump in April, but recovery trends in the USA have slowed this month as lockdown-lifts were delayed across a number of US States.

In Europe the recovery rate in the second half of June was stronger than in any other region, although the  activity for the entire month is still 40% behind last year’s. Flight activity in the UK and Spain is still way behind the norm, 60% under par for June.

Business aviation flights in Italy are back to half-normal, and France is back at the top of the ranking as the busiest European market, with flights down by 40%. Switzerland is back to 70% of usual activity, and Scandinavian countries are only down a quarter.The best performer in Europe is Germany, where flight activity is down by only 18% year on year for June.

Normally busiest business aviation airports in Europe and the US, Le Bourget and Teterboro, continue to struggle for recovery, 60% below normal activity for June. In  contrast, this month´s busiest airport, West Palm Beach, has seen over 2,600 departures this month,  an increase of over 45% year-onyear.

There continues to be a fairly robust recovery in activity at airports like Cannes, Biggin Hill and Zurich, which are down around a third, and in the USA, Van Nuys is trailing by 20%, Centennial is down only 10% and flight departures from Salt Lake airport are flat year-on-year.

Regions outside North America and Europe account for less than 10% of business aviation departures this month. Of these regions, Oceania activity has re-stabilised at around 90% of normal, Asia regional activity is stuck at 30% below, Africa is improving to 38% under par, and business aviation activity in South America is yet to be significantly eroded, at 87% of June 2019 activity.

Some highlights within these regions include China, where recovery trends have dropped off in second half of June due to virus outbreaks in Beijing; UAE and Saudi Arabia, both of which have seen only very shallow recovery; and Turkey, with a country-wide decline of 20% in flights, but YOY growth from Ataturk.

Globally, the strength in recovery in activity continues to be inversely related to cabin size; ultra-long range business jets are flying 50% less, heavy jets down 43%, midsize declining by 33%, super-midsize by 28%, light Jets by 22% and very light Jets by 19%.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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