Coronavirus : Europe leading flight activity recovery in July


According to WingX Global Market Tracker Europe is driving the business aviation sector’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Business aviation activity in and out of the four closest airports to the Red Bull Ring during the Grand Prix’s race days on July 5 and July 12 in Austria came to 76 flights for the two GPs, compared to 178 last year, a 58% year-on-year (YOY) decline. However, the 12th July event, the Styrian GP, attracted a further 84 movements, so the two events combined were only 15% down on the main event last year.

The trend through the first two weeks of July shows a 19% decline compared to first fortnight of  July 2019. The rolling seven day average daily activity has peaked at just under 16,000 flights this month, compared to the low-point of under 4,000 in April 2020.

North America has stabilized at 20% below par in July, and Europe is now  driving the recovery, with flights at 82% of usual July activity. Oceania seems to have normalised at 10% below, and activity out of Asia is treading water at 23% below, according to the tracker. Since the start of the year, global business aviation activity is down by 31% and since mid-March activity has dropped 47%. Comparably, worldwide scheduled airline sectors are down 75% since mid-March.

The USA was the key recovery market in May and June particularly around Independence Day celebrations during which comparable day analysis showed growth in YOY business jet departures. The recent surge in virus infections in the South and West of the country is blunting the ongoing recovery, but the overall deficit for the first two weeks of the month is only 17% YOY.

In Europe pent-up demand has been released since the opening of Schengen borders in mid-June and the ending of most country quarantines at the start of July. Besides Austria, other resilient markets include Croatia, which also has 5% growth YOY and Spain, just 1% off July 2019 activity.

The recovery continues to be characterised by demand for smaller aircraft; sectors flown in first 2 weeks of July on light jets are only 8% down year on year, and in the US, these and Very Light Jet flights are busier in 2020 than in 2019. Medium business jet activity is improving, with the SMJ segment within 85% of normal activity this month. Heavy Jet flights are down by 30% and Ultra Long Range Jet sectors lagging at 36% below par.

The PC-12 remains the busiest aircraft type, 87% of normal activity, with Nantucket and Denver the busiest PC-12 airports this month. Amongst the business jets, the Phenom 300 and Challenger 300 are busiest, globally within 10% of par, just 5% off in the US.

Richard Koe said, “So far this summer, the overall recovery in global business aviation activity is persisting despite the rise in global infections and the bumpiness in lockdown policies. The European summer season is the big driver, now that most regional quarantines are lifted, with promising trends in Central Europe.

“We expect that to follow around the Med in the next few weeks. The bigger question mark is around the US recovery, where renewed restrictions and their economic repercussions could slow or reverse the flight activity recently regained.”

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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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