Independence Day boosts recovery despite virus fears


Business aviation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has been boosted by activity in the USA over the Independence Day holiday, despite fears about the spread of the virus and the resumption of travel restrictions in some states.

According to WingX’s Global Market Tracker, traffic between the July 1-5 was only 7% less this year than last year. Through the last week of June and first week of July, US business jet and turbo prop activity was 85% of normal levels, with California the busiest state with 10,000 flights during those two weeks.

Elsewhere, Europe is back up to 77% of normal activity, Oceania and South America have stabilised at around 93% of usual activity; Asia is 27% below normal and recovery in Africa remains slow, trailing by 31%.

Aircraft management companies appear to be driving the recovery, with activity above 90% of normal, whereas branded charter operators are yet to see pent-up demand released but have recovered 80% of normal. Private and corporate flight departments are lagging, activity down close to 30%.

Outside of North America, the busiest countries in the last 2 weeks are France and Germany, respectively down by 24% and 10% YOY. Australia is the 5th busiest market globally with prop activity included, with that country seeing a small increase in year-on-year flight hours operated.

Richard Koe, managing director of WingX said, “Whether it’s despite the growing contagion concerns, or because of them, business aviation activity is continuing to be led by a recovery in the US, especially evident around Independence Day on July 4th. Leisure demand is clearly the driver at this point, with the holiday seeing lots of traffic to popular summer resorts.

“In Europe, charter requests are breaking records, and even if conversion is low, we expect to see the next month’s charter activity reflect a fairly strong pipeline. The longer-term outlook depends on what happens to business travel.”

Very light and entry level jet activity worldwide is within 10% of normal, super ;ight and super midsize jet traffic down by 15% in that fortnight, with heavy Jet sectors down by just over 30% and ultra long range jets flying almost 40% fewer sectors and close to 50% fewer hours. Turboprop recovery has stalled, flying down by 20%, but does retain the two busiest types, the PC-12 and King Air 200.

The three busiest business jets are the Citation Excel, Bombardier 300 and Phenom 300, all flying at around 85% of normal. In the global charter market, the busiest jet is the Challenger 300.

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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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