Business aviation activity quickens as scheduled services stay idle.

15 May 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Global business aviation activity is down by 58% so far in May, compared to the same period of the month last year. This is a solid improvement on the 70% decline during April and reflects consistent increase in 7-day average daily activity since mid-April, which is now trending at 5,900 flights per day worldwide. Resilience in business aviation contrasts with global scheduled airline activity, for which flights are trending down by 85% in May and showing only slight signs of improvement since April. Global cargo activity is the most resilient sector, down by ´only´ 20% year in May.

The North American business aviation market is dominant, with 53K sectors operated in May, 58% below normal, but representing 82% of global activity. Asia has a similar trend, 61% fewer flights but improved on 70% decline during April. Oceania is the most resilient region, flights down by 34% in May. Flight activity in Europe is still stagnating at 66% below normal. Trends in Africa are down by 54%. All regions have seen some recovery in 7-day average daily activity this month. Across all regions, business aviation has increased its share of total fixed wing activity from around 20% to 35%.

At a country level, the most resilient markets for business aviation are Australia, Norway, Brazil, with flights down by around 30%, and Sweden, flights down by under 20%. Worst affected countries are the UK, Italy, and Spain, all seeing declines of at least 75% in business aviation operations. At the airport level, West Palm Beach is the busiest in the world so far in May, with 608 sectors, down by 48%. Scottsdale is another resilient airport, flight activity down by 34%. Outside the US, the main airports in Australia are modestly below normal. In Europe, Le Bourget remains the busiest airport but departures are down by 73%. Biggin Hill is the busiest airport in the UK.

By aircraft segment, long-range large cabin jet activity continues to be the most subdued, with ultralong-range jets and heavy jets flying 75% less than normal. Light jet segments are flying around 50% of normal levels, and turboprop flying is slightly more resilient. The busiest aircraft continue to be props including the King Air 200, PC-12, Caravan. The busiest jets are Challenger 300 and Citation XLS platforms, with declines of at least 60%. There is quite a bit of regional variation, with Hawker 700 and Challenger 600, the busiest aircraft in Africa this month, seeing some YOY growth in activity.

In terms of Mission Type, Charter operations have not yet seen their much-anticipated recovery, with flights so far in May down by over 60%. Fractional operations continue to be very subdued, almost 70% reduced. Flights operated by Private and Corporate flight departments are down by close to 60%. Aircraft Management operators seem to be recovering faster, flight activity down by 50%. Almost 70% of the active managed fleet has been active this month. Recovery in Aircraft Management operators is most evident in the VLJ segment, and recovering by most in Sweden, Turkey, Brazil.

Richard Koe comments: “Business aviation activity globally is still at least 50% below normal, but the trend this month is stronger than last month, and steadily recovering in all regions, in contrast to stillidle scheduled airline capacity. In business aviation, the green shoots are most obvious in the US, and still largely limited to light jet and turboprops. Unsurprisingly, the countries with looser virussuppression policy, such as Sweden and Brazil, have maintained some resilience in flight activity. The next phase of recovery will be the return of international traffic, which is still at very low levels.”


WINGX is a data analytics and consulting company which provides actionable market intelligence to the global aviation industry. WINGX services include: Market Insight Reports, Online Dashboards, Customised Research, Strategic Consulting, Market Forecasts and Surveys. WINGX customers include aircraft operators, airframe, engine and avionics OEMs, airlines, maintenance providers, airports, fixed based operators, Satcom providers, fuel providers, legal advisors, leasing companies, banks, regulators, investors and private jet users.

Categories: COVID Recovery


The WINGX Daily TRACKER provides you with a daily-updated dashboard on all business aviation flights operated globally.