Charter and Fractional customers push US market to new highs
10/06/2021 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.
All Insights drawn via WINGX Monthly Insight Dashboard
Coming into the summer the expectation is that wherever travel restrictions allow, there will be a surge in leisure travel. These indicators are getting flagged in booking data and already evident in the record movements in hotspots ranging from Maldives to Aspen to Ibiza. With business travel starting to come back, we would expect a V shaped recovery to continue in 2021, albeit with a lot of regional divergence.
In the first 10 days of June, global business aviation activity is up by 49% compared to the same few days in June 2020, 5.3% below the opening period of June 2019. By contrast, scheduled airline activity is tracking 49% down vs 2019 over the last week. Since January 1st, business jet and prop traffic, just under two million sectors, has rebounded 40% compared to last year, trailing the comparable period in 2019 by 7%. Scheduled passenger airlines have been 2% less active this year than last year, and 46% behind 2019. Global cargo operations are 13% up on last year, 7% ahead of 2019.
Chart 1: Global Scheduled Airline, Cargo and Business Aviation activity through June 8th, 2021
With the recent launch by Dassault of the Falcon 10X, and the coinciding demise of Aerion’s Supersonic Jet, there is attention on the recovery on the largest and longest-range jets, which have been slowest to regain pre-pandemic activity in the last 15 months. Specifically, the Ultra-Long Range business jet segment was severely affected by global pandemic restrictions in 2020, with 40% drop in sectors, 50% crash in hours flown, between March and December last year. This year, the ULR segment has recovered, sectors up 30% vs 2020, but still 17% below comparable 2019. 57,000 of the 100,000 sectors flown so far this year by ULR jets have originated in the United States, this activity running only 10% behind 2019. Looking just at Charter operations, US-originating ULR sectors are flying just 7% less than in 2019. And from Florida, ULR jet charters are up more than 50% compared to 2019.
The resurgence of all business aviation activity in the US in the last six weeks has been remarkable. Business jet and prop activity is up 43% versus last year, down only 5% compared to 2019 through the start of June. The charter market is booming, 50% up on 2020, 10% more sectors flown than in comparable five-plus months of 2019. Six of the busiest US States have seen more charter activity this year than in 2019, with Florida racking up a 40% growth compared to pre-pandemic. Having been severely curtailed during 2020, business jet flights out of New York have rebounded 60% this year, and into June they are trending 4% above 2019 levels. Both Arizona and Colorado have double-digit leads on pre-pandemic flight activity. Super midsize flights are up 10% nationally vs Jan-June period in 2019.
Chart 2: Business aviation arrivals into Aspen airport in 2021 vs 2020 and 2019
In Europe, business jet activity is still 18% off pre-pandemic volumes, even if 2021 YTD has a welcome 33% bounce vs 2020. Contrast scheduled airline activity in Europe, 71% below pre-pandemic activity and still trailing 2019 by 37%. The business turboprop segment is the most resilient in Europe, now within 8% of comparable 2019 activity. The last six weeks have seen a resurgence across most aircraft segments, with prop, super light, entry level and very light jet activity trending above pre-pandemic. Ultra-long range jets are still relatively idle, flight hours down 40% since the start of May compared to May-June 2019. The star of the show in Europe is the Citation Mustang, with double the number of flights since April versus same 6-week period in 2020, and an 8% lead in sectors flown in comparable 2019.
Chart 3: Top 10 business aviation airports in Europe for business aviation in 2021 vs 2020, 2019
There is a broad spectrum of recovery in business aviation recovery across Europe, with 2019 comparison for May-June showing solid growth in flights this year from and to Spain, almost 30% higher numbers out of Greece, single-digit deficits in Germany and Austria, 13% decline in busiest market France, more than 20% shortfalls across Scandinavia, and 28% decline for the UK. Likewise at an airport level, with sunspots like Ibiza, Mallorca, Malaga seeing record-breaking flight activity, whilst top airports like Nice and Le Bourget are still languishing 20% below comparable 2019. Formerly busiest UK airport Luton barely ranks top-ten with departures still 50% below pre-pandemic. In contrast, flights from Vnukovo, now 2nd-busiest in Europe, are up 40% compared to 2019.
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