WINGX Analysis: Insight

9 Aug 2021

Here is our summary of the record-breaking flight activity coming through in business jets in the US, Europe and Globally this summer (post-pandemic).

Europe

Having seen a massive drop in activity during 2020 (-75% YOY and -43% on a Last 12 Month basis), business aviation activity bounced back quick last summer (YOY positive in Aug-20) then relapsed during the winter virus wave, stuttered through Spring 2021, then came surging back since June. July 2021 set a new record for business jet activity, with 63,991 business jet sectors beating the previous peak of 57,767 sectors in July 2018. The Very Light, Super Light and Super Mid segments have seen the biggest breakthroughs. Year-to-Date 2021, European business jet activity is still 11% behind YTD-2019, but is bouncing back fast, with a last 12 month trend of 14% through July.

United States

In the US, business aviation activity saw a similar impact to Europe at the outset of the pandemic, with the biggest decline coming in spring 2020, flights falling at least two-thirds. The recovery during last summer was impressive during holiday periods, with Florida and then Texas seeing a rebound beyond normal levels of activity by the start of this year. California, North East and Mid-West took much longer to catch up but from May the momentum has picked up and pre-pandemic activity records have been broken in recent months. July 2021 sets a new high point, with 13% more business jet sectors flown than the pre-pandemic record in October 2019. Distinct from Europe, large cabin business jets have also flown more than ever before this summer.

Globally

Also taking into account flight activity across the rest of the world, global business jet activity has clearly moved well beyond pre-pandemic levels. July 2021 saw more than 20% higher activity than July 2019, and after 7 months of 2021, business jet movements are 6% ahead of same period 2019, 9% ahead of same period 2018.

Overall Comment

Business jet operators were quick to find their feet and adjust to the new normal after March 2020, with a rapid recovery as the virus ebbed, and an adaptive stance when the virus resurged. As the overall virus risk recedes in 2021, and travel restrictions loosen, the utilisation evidence is pointing to a much more robust market than pre-pandemic. The recovery so far, well beyond initial expectations, is largely supported by Leisure activity. When corporations start to fly again they will need a safe, secure and convenient alternative to the airlines, which are still far from fully operational. So we may only be seeing the first phase of growth in business jet activity.