08/07/2021 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.
All Insights drawn via WINGX Monthly Insight Dashboard
Even by the standards of the recent resurgence in business jet demand in the US, flight activity during this year´s Independence Day holiday was spectacularly strong. With all US States unlocked, the leisure market looks set to reach new heights this summer. The recovery in Europe is slower and more muted, but very strong in the various hotspots where restrictions are mostly lifted on incoming tourists.
For the first 6 months of 2021 global business aviation activity fell only 4% short of the first half of 2019, and was way up, +42%, compared to the first half of 2020. Global scheduled airline activity fell 45% short of the first half in 2019, rebounding less than 10% beyond the first half of 2020. Cargo operations stayed resilient, with 7% more activity than comparable 2019. For business aviation, the recovery has quickened as the year has progressed; June 2021 saw record levels of activity for business aviation globally, with jet and prop departures up 10% vs June 2019.
Chart 1: Global Scheduled Airline, Cargo and Business Aviation activity Jan through June 30th, 2021
In the United States, business aviation activity for the Fourth of July holiday soared well above 2019 levels. Independence Day 2019 fell on a Thursday, the 2021 holiday on a Sunday. Comparing the same Thursday – Sunday period, WINGX recorded around 11,000 more departures in 2021, 44% higher than in 2019. Although the busiest segment was Turboprop, it was the Ultra Long Range Jets which posted the largest growth, 77% more flights compared to same dates in 2019. Super Midsize Jet activity was up 66% vs 2019, Light Jets up 60%. Business Jet departures from the United States to Mexico across the holiday period were up by 44% vs 2019, flights to the Bahamas up 63%. Canada is one of the few destinations from the US which has seen virtually no recovery during the holiday.
Teterboro, Van Nuys and Las Vegas McCarran all saw a huge rebound in business jet activity during the holiday, each recording close to 500 departures over the four days. This marks a significant turnaround from the pandemic period, when all three airports have been in the doldrums. The final steps in the opening up of the economy in California appears to be the driving force. Other airports also saw spectacular activity during the holiday: compared to same dates in 2019, departures were up 111% at Dallas Love Field, up 98% higher from West Palm Beach International, 87% higher at William P Hobby Airport in Houston.
Chart 2 – Top 10 business jet airport pairs Las Vegas McCarran International 1st – 4th July 2021
In Europe business aviation is finally on the rebound with June seeing the first above-normal activity since August last year, registering 2% more flights than in June 2019. Indeed, the last week of June and first week of July indicate a 6% increase on comparable early summer weeks in 2019. In contrast to the midsize and super-mid rebound in the US, demand in Europe is strongest in the smallest cabins. Very Light Jet flights are up 5% so far this year compared to 2019. Tourist hotspots in Greece and around the Med have seen the biggest rebounds. More than ever, France is the key market, with activity already back to summer 2019. The UK is still well behind, 21% fewer flights this June versus 2019.
The UEFA EURO football championship has catalysed very strong demand wherever the stadium cities have been open to visitors. Friday 2nd July saw Spain play Switzerland in St Petersburg, and business jet arrivals into Pulkovo Airport were up 200% compared to average activity in June 2019. No such spike in UK visitors to the England-Ukraine game at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Italian authorities had largely restricted inbound tourists from both countries. The ongoing lift in restrictions in the next week may see some additional business jet demand for the Finals, but it´s likely that we will need to wait later into the summer to see sports venues properly able to welcome normal levels of international tourists.
Outside Europe and the US, business jet flight this month are trending up by 85% on last year, 4% below where they were in June 2019. This compares to a year-to-date deficit of 12% compared to the first half of 2019. Canada and Mexico are the backmarkers, business jet sectors still a third behind June 2019 levels. Morocco and Japan are two other countries with incomplete recoveries. Some countries have seen rebounds well above June 2019, notably Brazil, India, UAE, Nigeria, and Indonesia. The busiest business jet across these markets this month is the Challenger 600 series, operating some 3,000 sectors, 2% less than in June 2019. The Embraer Legacy platform is 60% more active than in June 2019. Airports with well above normal flight activity this month include Los Cabos, Al Maktoum and Abuja.
Chart 3: Top airport pairs into Rome Airport’s 3rd July 2021
Outside Europe and the United States, business aviation activity was down just 3% compared to first half 2019, with a 3% bounce in June 2021 versus June 2019. Canada and Mexico are the relatively weak markets, respectively 16% and 37% behind levels of the first half of 2019. In contrast both Australia and New Zealand have sustained strong growth versus pre-pandemic activity. Other large markets have also maintained much higher levels of business jet activity than pre-pandemic: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, South Africa and United Arab Emirates are all booming.
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