Bizav activity weakens overall but some resilience, notably in charter.

1 Oct 2020

Issuing date: September 30rd, 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Global business aviation activity through 4 weeks of September is down by 18% vs Sep-19, the equivalent of eighty-four thousand fewer sectors. This represents a stalling on the already-slowing global recovery last month. Business aviation flight demand is still relatively resilient compared to scheduled airline activity, where activity is sliding below 50% of 2019 levels. For the airlines, European travel is worst affected, but for business aviation, North America is trailing by most, flights 20% below par this month. European business aviation activity is at 89% of normal activity this month, and in Asia, bizav activity is just 5% down. 92% of the global business aviation fleet engaged in September 2019 has been active this month.

The divergent and rapidly changing rules on international travel quarantines which have constrained airline connections in Europe have also complicated business aviation activity; the top 9 country flows were all domestic. Jet and turboprop flights within Turkey and Russia are in fact well up on YOY trends, and domestic flights within Italy and Sweden are also modestly up this month. The busiest international bizav flow in September is UK to Italy, with 670 flights this month, an increase of almost 30% YOY. The busiest airport destinations on this country connection are Olbia, Milan and Genoa, with busiest origin airports Farnborough and Biggin Hill. Top aircraft types flying UK to Italy are light jets, notably the Phenom 300, flights up by 70% and the CJ2, flights up 50%, versus same period in September 2019.

Taking a step back, the slowdown at the European level is most severe, and deteriorating, in the UK and Spain, respectively 26% and 32% behind usual activity for September. Activity growth in August in Switzerland and Germany has relapsed this month. Turkey and Russia are growth outliers, business jet activity well up YOY, and Austria has seen increased activity all summer. Turboprop activity is up in Europe, mainly through PC-12 flights, growing 12% year on year in September. Business jet activity is weaker, with an overall decline of 14% in sectors this month, 20% decline in operating hours. Gulfstream and Dassault flight hours are down 40% in Europe this month. Branded charter operators are providing most buoyancy, flights down only 7% for September across Europe. Busiest city pair for business jet charters is Nice-Moscow.

In North America, the recovery in business aviation activity is slowing, sectors down by 21% compared to September 2019. Mexico continues to be the tailender, flights down by 55%. The Bahamas has seen a similar stagnation since May. In Canada, flight activity is treading water 25% below, and in the US, trends are ebbing below 80% of normal. There have been modest YOY increases in activity to and from Caribbean destinations like St Bart and Turks and Caicos. By US State, there is some buoyancy in Florida and Colorado, flights growing from both this month. The busiest two US States are Texas and California, activity still at around 20% below, a similar level to New York, which is at least recovering. The strongest inter-State activity is between Texas and Colorado and Florida and Georgia.

Branded charter operations continue to show most resilience in the US, with trend in sectors down only 12% this month, compared to 26% drop in private and corporate flight departments. Whilst branded charter ops out of Teterboro are still 60% below, the next busiest airport at Love Field Texas is seeing only 3% decline this month. Aspen, Colorado continues to see the strongest YOY growth in charters, with arrivals and departures up by a third. Miami-Opa Locka has seen more than 20% growth in charter departures this month, West Palm Beach also has double-digit growth in September, as does Scottsdale. These trends contrast with steep declines in charter demand from McCarran Las Vegas, as well as East Coast hubs at Dulles and White Plains. The strongest US growth pairs for charter demand this month are from Westchester to Nantucket, and Van Nuys to Aspen.

Richard Koe comments “In Europe, diverse national travel restrictions have complicated all travel plans and taken the wind out of the bizav flight recovery. The US is behind the curve in opening-up the economy, with Florida the exception. But despite the overall slowdown, there are examples of growth, with common themes around domestic itineraries, getaway locations, smaller aircraft, and the charter operators appear to be best positioned to meet the associated demand.”

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Categories: COVID Impact