North America continues to lead business aviation recovery


The global recovery in business aviation continues to be led by flights in North America according to activity-tracker WingX.

According to the Hamburg, Germany-based data analytics and consultancy in North America there was a rolling 7-day average of 3,800 flights at the start of the May, which ended the month at around 6,200, an improvement of 63%. In the USA, flights in the last 7 days, which includes Memorial Day demand, are down only 3% compared to the same dates in 2019.

Globally, the company’s Market Tracker shows that activity during May and the first few days of June is 51% less than the same period last year. However, this is an improvement over the year-on-year drop of 75% during April.

The busiest airports since May 1st have been in Florida, Texas and Arizona, with West Palm Beach at the top, flights trending down by 20%, then Dallas Love Field and then Scottsdale airport. Florida´s Naples airport, ranked 4th by business aviation departures, has actually seen some growth in May 2020 compared to May 2019.

In Europe, Le Bourget, Geneva and Zurich are busiest, then Biggin Hill. Elsewhere, Vnukovo has been the busiest business jet hub, and Brisbane busiest for turboprop traffic.

WingX managing director Richard Koe said, “The key US market appears to be entering a faster recovery phase, with holiday travel in the last week seeing close to normal activity for the end of May.

“Overall, aircraft management companies have the strongest overall trend, although some charter operators have almost regained usual levels. Europe is still lagging, with business aviation traffic down by 60%, though still much better than scheduled airlines, sectors more than 80% below. Coming into the summer, we expect to see faster recovery, although countries with quarantines in place will obviously miss out.”

After North America, the bulk of business aviation activity has operated out of Europe, with trends still just over 60% below normal. Of the other regions, Oceania has recovered by most, with traffic only 25% below normal, and South America running 27% below par.

In Asia flight activity since the start of May is down by just over 50% year on year, although it’s more than doubled in the last week. At the start of the May, only half the normally active worldwide fleet was operational, and by the end of the month fleet employment was down 20% on normal.

By country, business aviation demand appears to be most robust in Australia and Sweden, with jets and props operating 20% below comparative periods in 2019. Germany is the busiest country in Europe, with flights 44% below usual. Sectors flown within Germany are only 20% fewer than normal. Flight activity in Russia and France is respectively 53% and 63% down. The countries seeing the largest negative impacts are still the UK, Spain, Italy, flight activity reduced by 70% and more.

In terms of types of jets, the best performing continue to be Very Light and Entry Level jets, and Turboprops. The PC-12 and King Air 200 have operated 20% of all business aviation flights during May with comparable year on year activity down some 35%. Cirrus SF50 jet activity is slightly up for the same period in 2019.

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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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