05/08/2021 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.
All Insights drawn via WINGX Monthly Insight Dashboard
The jury is in regarding the likelihood of a repeat of last year´s strong rebound in leisure travel demand as restrictions ended: these have materialised in full, well above even pre-pandemic summertime highs in business jet demand. Barring the unlikely renewal of lockdown, the upswing should continue over the next 6 weeks, with the next question turning to the potential return of the corporate customers.
The recovery in demand for business aviation continues to surprise on the upside, eclipsing the recovery in scheduled airline activity. The full calendar month of July saw 13% more business jet and turboprop sectors flown worldwide than in July 2019. After 7 months of 2021, the aggregate activity of all business aviation aircraft is back in line with the comparable 2019 period. The core characteristic of the rebound in activity has been resurgent small and midsize business jet activity since the spring: in the last 3 months these business jet segments have operated over 400,000 sectors globally, 14% more than in May-July 2019.
Chart 1: Global Business Jet flight activity in Jan 1st – July 30th 2021
In the North American region business aviation activity was up 12% versus July 2019 and 46% more active than July 2020. And within the region, the US market has surged, business jet flights up 25% compared to 2 years ago. The only two segments still trailing 2019 levels were at either ends of the scale: turboprops and bizliners. Super Midsize Jets appear to offer the sweet spot to record demand in the region, with July seeing a 30% bounce in flights in this segment, compared to July 2019. Light Jet activity ran 26% up on July two years ago, and Ultra Long Range Jet fleets, idle for so much of the pandemic, flew more than ever this month, up 23% vs July 2019.
As expected, the charter market was hottest in July, with branded charter operators generating 35% more sectors overall versus July 2021, easily an all-time record. Fractional operations are also running close to maximum capacity, 25% more sectors than two years ago July. Notably, Part-91 flights equally rebounded this month, 22% more sectors flown than in July 2021. This may suggest a comeback in corporate operations. Overall, the busiest US States in July were Florida, Arizona and South Carolina, respectively beating 2019 trends by 55%, 49% and 46%. North Dakota, Main and West Virginia were the only States still trailing summer 2021 activity.
Chart 2: Business jet segments flown in the United States through July 30th 2021 vs 2019
July saw a significant bounce in business aviation activity in the European region, with an uplift of 14% sectors compared to pre-pandemic “normal” July 2019. The summer spike is coming from light jet segments, activity soaring 30% above high points from the same month two years ago. In contrast to the US, the recovery has not yet come to the Large Jets. More than ever, the clear signature in this summer´s demand is Leisure travel, with Ibiza, Mallorca, Olbia all registering in the top 10 busiest destinations. Greek islands have seen particularly high activity, Zakynthos for example getting 115% more business jet arrivals than July 2019. A significant share of the visitors are wealthy Russians, with Vnukovo ranking as 2nd busiest airport in Europe for business jet departures in summer 2021.
Chart 3: Business aviation & Scheduled connections with UUWW / Vnukovo International, July 2021 vs July 2019.
Rest of World
Outside the US and Europe, there are mixed trends in recovery in the largest markets for business jets: the recovery in Canada is very sluggish, consistent with ongoing restrictions; but across Australia and New Zealand, despite international travel restrictions, domestic business aviation traffic is higher than ever; in Africa and South America, where the pandemic is still very much at large, several countries have seen much higher business jet travel than before 2020; in China, domestic business aviation travel has beaten records, but international traffic is almost standstill. The Middle East, specifically the UAE, has seen very resilient business jet travel, especially from Dubai.
Chart 4: Business Aviation vs Scheduled Aviation connections with OMDB / Dubai International, July 2021 vs July 2019
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