May starts strong, charter market still booming

12 May 2022

12/5/2022 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Growth trends in flights compared to pre-pandemic seemed to stutter in April but are surging in May, especially for business jet demand in the US. Branded charter operations and Private flight Departments are both flying high, whilst Corporate Flight Departments are seeing signs of recovery but still at modest levels. The Russian market for business jets is evaporating, but it may be that the demand for business jet travel is soaked up elsewhere this summer.

Global fixed-wing flight activity is up by 36% in the first 9 days of May 2022 compared to same period of May last year. Business jet and prop flights bounced up by 23% compared to last year, up 9% compared to May 2019. Cargo and Scheduled Airline operations were 12% and 24% below comparable May 2019 activity, respectively. Both Europe and North America have double-digit growth trends in business jet activity. Turboprop activity in North America is slowing, with sectors flown in May this year down 13% compared to May 2019.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flight activity in May 2022

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Business jet traffic continues to evaporate in the Russia-Ukraine region, with just 174 flights conducted so far in May, a decline of 80% compared to last year, down 70% compared to May 2019. Half the flights from Russia are domestic, compared to 35% domestic share one year ago. Some international destinations are getting more business jet arrivals from Russia than last year, including Turkey, Armenia, Israel and Uzbekistan. Just a handful of flights have gone to Dubai this month, 16 flights, compared to 65 at the start of May 2019. There are no European city destinations from the region this month, compared to last year when London, Zurich and Riga were top of the list.

Chart 2: Business jet departures from Russia and Ukraine in May 2022

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Business jet departures in the European region, excluding Russia and Ukraine, are still well up on where they were pre-Covid; in May so far, 16% more sectors flown than in comparable May 2019. France, UK, Portugal and Austria are seeing 10% more jet departures than 3 years ago. Business jet departures from Spain are up 26% so far this month vs May-19, and from Turkey, flights are up 54%. Business jet flights from Sweden are up 86% this month compared to May 2019. Biggest increase in outbound flights from Sweden were to Spain, Finland and Belgium. The PC-24 has powered the activity growth. Business jet departures from Sweden are up 65% this year compared to 2019., although if the PC-24 is excluded, the growth is only 8%.

Chart 3: Business jet connections from Sweden in May 2022

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North America
Business jet sectors flown in North America are up 20% this year compared to May 2019, with over 1 million departures operated since the start of 2022. Business jet flights in the first 9 days of May are up by 17% compared to May 2019. Flight hours are up 23% so far in May, indicating that longer sectors recovering relatively quickly. Business jet flights from the US to Bahamas are up almost 40% this month. Flights from New York to Florida, a linchpin of the pandemic period’s surge in business jet demand, are up 26% this month compared to last year. Compared to May 2019, this connection is trending 81% higher. Flexjet is flying three times its pre Covid schedule between the two States. So far this month, 45 different Gulfstream GV/500/550 aircraft types have been active on this route.

Chart 4: Business jet departures by day from New York to Florida since 2019

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Rest of World
Excluding business jet operations in the US and Europe, the rest of the world is seeing an aggregate 7% increase in sectors flown in 2022 versus 2019. Some substantial markets are not yet seeing activity back at pre-Covid levels. Including Canada and Mexico. Business jet activity in China is down 47% this year compared to last year, in May so far, 62% lower than in May 2019. The Middle East is seeing strong demand for business aviation this year, flights up by 47% this month, up 38% since January, in comparison with same periods in 2019. The UAE is the strongest market, although flights have tapered off this month. So far this year, flights from UAE to India are up 150% compared to 2019.

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