Caribbean demand, Florida thriving, Europe stagnating

18 Feb 2021

Issuing date: February 18th, 2021

According to WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker 

Global business aviation traffic is down by 11% for the first half of February, 14K flights fewer than  February last year. Demand for corporate aviation has been steady over the last month, whilst  scheduled airline activity continues to deteriorate, 53% lower than YOY in February so far. Cargo  activity continues to increase activity YOY. European activity is weakest, commercial airline activity  down by 68% in February, with business aviation flights sliding by 22%. Business aviation trends  continue to diverge widely from region to region, with North America 10% below YOY, Asia just 1%  under, flights in Africa down by 8%, and activity up in South America and Oceania. 

In North America, 7-day trending activity was back up to 8,600 sectors daily in the run up to Valentine’s  Day, the highest since the New Year, and higher than at any period from April through August last year.  Private flight activity is down by most in February, 15% below normal. Aircraft Management fleets are  flying 4% below normal, with Branded Charter activity the most robust, just 1% off last year’s trends.  The busy flying was in the Caribbean, with double-digit growth in flight activity in US Virgin Islands,  Antigua Barbuda and Guadeloupe. In contrast, other regional spots were much quieter, much less  activity at Sint Maarten and Saint Barthelemy. Compared to the US, where activity is just 8% down,  flight activity in Canada was more than 40% below.

Chart 1 – Business Aviation in overall market context – from Jan 1-Feb 16 2021 vs same period in 2020 (click to expand)

Within the US, business aviation activity in Florida is driving the market forward, with 10% more activity  than last February. Other US States with lots of growth in business aviation in February include  Colorado, Arizona, South Carolina. In contrast, business jet activity out of California and Texas is down double-digit. Flights out of New York are down only 5% but New Jersey has relapsed, business aviation  movements down 41% in February. The busiest inter-state connection is Florida and Georgia, an 18%  increase in YOY flying. The pattern of busiest airports has not changed much in the last 12 months,  with West Palm Beach, Miami-Opa Locka and Naples breaking activity records, Scottsdale and Centennial all doing better than pre-pandemic, whereas Teterboro, McCarran and Hobby Houston are  well below normal. 

Chart 2 – Business aviation by geography from Jan 1 – Feb 16 2021 vs same period 2020 (click to expand)

In Europe, overlapping and unpredictable border restrictions are constraining recovery in flying. The  UK is most affected, with 60% reductions in February activity, the lowest ebb since the height of the  pandemic last year. Luton, Farnborough and Biggin Hill are the busiest three airports but all with  activity down two thirds. Bournemouth is the only leading business aviation airport to have growth  this month. The UK Charter market is 62% less active than February 2020, with only 247 flights from  the UK to the rest of Europe, although there are YOY increases in outbound flights this month to  Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary. Declines have also been heavy in France and Germany, with  Switzerland’s inbound business jet flight down more than half. Notably, domestic business jet traffic  in France and Italy is at normal levels. 

Chart 3 – Global business aviation operations by selected operator type: from Jan 1 – Feb 16 2021 vs same period 2020 (click to expand)

Outside Europe, there is strong growth in business jet activity in Russia and Turkey, the majority  domestic, maintaining trends this year. In the wider European market, there is growth in Hawker 700- 950 jet activity and for King Air 200. Falcon 2000 and Global 6500 activity is down well over 40%.  Outside Europe and the US, the busiest business jet worldwide is the Challenger 600 platform, flights  only 1% behind last February. The Legacy 600 is flying 14% more than usual and the Lear 45 is another  aircraft type with increased usage. There is more business jet activity than last year in China, Brazil,  Nigeria. There are still sizeable lags in business jet activity in Saudi Arabia, whereas flights in the UAE  are up this month, mainly with Russia, Turkey, also Germany and Maldives. 

Chart 4 – Scheduled aviation vs business aviation in 2021 outbound pair map (click to expand)
Chart 5 – Scheduled aviation vs business aviation in 2021 outbound pair list (click to expand)

Richard Koe comments “The US market continues to look pretty solid for business aviation demand in  2021, with Florida the hub, California and Texas still lagging. The Caribbean is also seeing some strong  leisure traffic. Although Western Europe continues to relapse, big domestic markets in Russia and  Turkey, Nigeria and Brazil, all clearly have strong demand for business aviation aircraft.”

Categories: COVID Recovery


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