Activity sliding as quarantines renewed

5 Nov 2020

Issuing date: November 3rd, 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

From the start of October into the first week of November, global business aviation sectors have declined by 14.7% compared to the same period in 2019. This compares to 54% same-period decline in scheduled aviation activity and a 0.5% pick-up in cargo airline operations. Business aviation activity represents just over 20% of total global fixed wing activity in this period, compared to 12% during 2019. Year on year business aviation trends picked up in October compared to September and hit a post-March high point in mid-October, but since then, rolling 7-day activity has slid back by 10%, declining each day through 3rd November. 

North America had seen 78% of global business aviation sectors in the last 5 weeks, down by 16% for same period, a slight improvement on 18% decline for September YOY. The weakest markets are Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Sint Maarten, Bermuda. The United States has seen sectors falling 14% compared to the same five weeks in 2019, although notably sectors between 2 to 3 hours have increased YOY. The second half of October was the busiest period for business aviation in the US since February this year, but since then the recovery has lapsed. Business jets operated 2/3 of all sectors, and flew 180K sectors, with hours down only 11% compared to same period in 2019.

The flight activity trends across the United States since September maintain a familiar narrative: the South-East is showing quite robust trends with jet and prop departures in Florida and South Carolina up this month; the North East is still ailing, although New York’s activity is close to 90% of normal, whilst New Jersey is still over 40% behind; the Mid-West is also well adrift, with both Illinois and Ohio 20% under, although Michigan is just 9% off; South Central is mainly aligned to Texas where trends are static at 85% of normal; the West Coast has improved markedly from September to October, now 11% down YOY. Despite the overall slowdown in the recovery in the second half of October, Florida’s 7-Day trend picked up in the last 2 weeks. Florida’s busiest State connection is with Georgia.

Business aviation trends in Europe held up over the last 5-week period, 12% down on same period in 2019. However, the resurgence of the virus and the associated lockdown renewals has seen a steady deterioration, with a 22% drop in rolling average activity since the start of last month. The UK continues to be the hardest hit, with outbound flights falling 32% since September. Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium are all seeing 20% declines in the last few weeks. Other countries are maintaining 90% or more of normal activity, including Germany, Italy, Austria. Flight activity in Sweden is only 2% off, business aviation flights in Portugal are up 10% and in Greece and Turkey, flights are soaring more than 40% above usual levels for this time of year.

The busiest airport hubs in Europe continue to see the largest declines in YOY flight, with Luton’s jet and prop departures running 50% below normal, Le Bourget, Geneva and Farnborough around 35% under par, Nice trailing by 17%. Zurich, Ciampino and Munich are aligned with low double-digit market declines, with Schoenefeld seeing a small increase YOY. The last 5 weeks has seen substantial growth in activity at Vnukovo, Ataturk and Athens airports. Vnukovo connections are well up with Riga and Nice, whereas Ataturk is seeing a big increase in domestic flights with Bodrum, Dalaman, Esenboga, also with Tirana. Amongst Europe’s busiest business jets this month, the Citation Mustang, CJ2 and Hawker 700-900 platforms are seeing solid YOY increases.

Worldwide, the charter market continues to be the resilient sector, with sectors down by only 6% compared to last year. Fractional operators have also made a big comeback, with October activity trailing by 8%. Private flight departments are still operating well below normal, at least 20% under par. The busiest business jet in the charter market is the Citation Excel, flights down 14%, in contrast to Challenger 300 activity, which is level with YOY charter sectors. The Nextant is in relatively high demand, charter sectors up by 11%. The Embraer Legacy 600 is flying 44% fewer charter sectors worldwide, but in Europe this platform is up 7%. In Europe, Citation Mustang charter hours are up 9%, and in the US, Mustang hours are up over 40%.

Richard Koe comments “With the resurgence of the virus in Europe inevitably heading towards the United States, the industry faces a turbulent few months, and that’s already reflected in the relapsing recovery in flights coming into November. The business traveller isn’t going to come back in large numbers this winger so much depends on the sustainability of leisure demand, in particular for charter flights, with previously occasional customers flying more, and reportedly a significant number of first-time entrants coming into the market.”

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Categories: COVID Impact