Florida stands out in otherwise weakening recovery

15 Oct 2020

Issuing date: October 14th, 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Global business aviation rolling average activity is trending around 11,500 sectors a day, just about where it was at the start of September. Compared to same period in 2019, jet and prop activity is down by 19%, representing a deficit of 157,000 flight hours. The 6-week period has seen a good deal of variation, with the North American market dipping from the middle of September but recovering at the end of the month and holding firm since then. In contrast, flight demand in Europe has gradually subsided. Over the longer term, since March 2020, business aviation activity has subsided by 32%, about half the decline experienced in the commercial airline market.

Since March, and especially since the summer, the charter business has been the most buoyant sector across business aviation activity. Over the 7 months, Charter flights are down by 27%, compared to Private operations, almost 40% adrift. During the summer, notably in July in the United States and over August in Europe, charter activity was up Year on Year. Since the start of September, the end of the summer holiday has slowed demand, with branded charter operations down 12% in the intervening 6 weeks, still significantly more resilient than owner flights, still down by over a quarter. Also, it appears that the active inventory of aircraft in the branded charter fleet is resilient, just 4% down despite there being 17% fewer charter operators year on year.

Charter demand is clearly resilient in the United States, with branded charter hours trailing by only 4% since the start of September. The busiest aircraft in the charter market are the King Air 350, Citation Excel, PC-12, with the latter seeing 17% increase in YOY flight hours. The Nextant and Lear 60 platforms also have double-digit growth in charter hours, and older Citations, CJ3, X, Ultra, all have some growth. Of the larger jets, the Challenger 300 is busiest and only 1% off in sectors, but heavy jets like Challenger 600 are 22% below and Global Express charters down by over 30%. Across the market, Aircraft Management and Fractional companies are flying 10-15% less during the period, and Private operations are 23% down compared to same period in 2019.

Geographically, California and Texas are the busiest US States, each with 32,000 sectors since start of September, and respectively trending down by 13% and 17% in the last 6 weeks. Florida and Colorado continue to be the highlights, with 6% and 9% YOY increase in flights. Charter and fractional operations are up more than 15% YOY in September and October, with busiest hubs at Palm Beach, Miami-Opa Locka and Fort Lauderdale, all with activity well up YOY. Flights within Florida are up 7%, busiest inter-State connections with Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, all well up YOY. For Colorado, flights within the last 6 weeks are down, but Texas, California, Wyoming and Arizona. Coming into Colorado, busiest segments are Super Mid, Mid and Super Light, but even Ultra Long Range arrivals are up 25%.

In Europe, the 7-Day trend has tailed off in the last 6 weeks, averaging 2,339 sectors a day at the start of September, down to 1,738 in the last week. Charter operations are relatively resilient at 7% down for the last 6 weeks, but average daily charter sectors have fallen off 30% in that period.  Flight activity trends are closely correlating with second-wave virus contagion and intervention, with business aviation sectors out of UK and Spain down by a third, France trailing by 20%. Over the last 6 weeks, bizav demand in Italy is modestly up, especially UK-Italy, but the real growth outliers are Russia and Turkey with very strong increase in domestic activity. Flights within Germany are up 3% compared to same period last year, but international flights from Germany are down double digits.

At an airport level, the growth outliers are at Vnukovo, Ankara and Athens, with very large increases in outbound business jet activity from all 3 airports. Both leading airports Le Bourget and Nice are seeing big declines, and London airports are obviously affected by the renewed public health restrictions, with Farnborough activity down 32%, Luton down 38%, although Biggin Hill activity is holding firm at just 2% below normal. International flights are worst hit, especially those with destinations outside Europe; transatlantic flights are down three quarters. Outside Europe and the US, flight activity is down almost 20%, with very subdued markets in Mexico, Canada, Saud Arabia offsetting robust activity in China, Nigeria, Brazil.

Richard Koe comments “In Europe it’s clear that the winter wave of the pandemic is repressing any sort of recovery in the corporate travel market and subduing a previously robust consumer travel demand. The US market varies depending on region, with Florida’s opening-up seeing very strong activity, and charter demand quite buoyant countrywide. In Asia the recovery appears to have hit a ceiling 10% under, although domestic flying is stronger, and China’s traffic is back up.”

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Categories: COVID Impact