Overall activity levels holding but charter demand sliding fast

12 Jan 2023

12/01/2023 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Business aviation activity has entered the new year with a small head-start on the first days of January 2022, with some recovery in the US following the winter storm blip in December. The charter market is still weakening, notably in California, and in the busiest Western European markets. Private flight departments are offsetting these trends with strong growth compared to last year.

During the opening 9 days of January 2023, business jet and turboprop sectors were 3% ahead of the same 9-day period in 2022, 16% ahead of 2019. Business jet sectors were flat, with growth in private flights offsetting a deepening decline in charter activity. Scheduled airline sectors are up 19% so far in January compared to last year, 12% behind pre-pandemic 2019. Freighters have seen a slow start to the year, sectors are 8% behind last year, and 8% behind 2019.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flights, 1st – 9th January 2023 compared to previous years
(note business aviation includes turboprops)

North America
66,000 business jet sectors have been flown in the opening 9 days of January across the North America region, -0.3% on January last year, 18% ahead of comparable 2019. In Week 1 this year, ending 8th January, activity increased 2% compared to the last week of 2022, on par with the same week in 2022. In the last four weeks activity is 3% below same four weeks in 2022.

Branded charter activity is continuing to slow down. In the first 9 days of the year, sectors are down 18% compared to 2022, although still 18% above comparable January 2019. Aircraft management operators have started the year 4% behind last year, although 19% ahead of pre-pandemic January. Fractional and private flight departments are well ahead of 2019, 6% and 12% ahead of last year respectively.

Chart 2: Business jet operator types, January 2023 compared to previous years

West Palm Beach Intl started 2023 as the busiest bizjet hotspot in the region, activity down 4% compared to last year. Across the US, business jet demand is mixed at leading airports, with flight departures from Teterboro and Miami Opa-Locka down compared to Jan-22, whereas Las Vegas McCarran and Dallas Love Field are seeing double digit growth compared to last year.

Chart 3: Top North America bizjet airports January 2023 compared to previous years

Light jets are the busiest segment flying this January, activity down 3% compared to same week last year, 17% ahead of 2019. Midsize, super light and entry level jets have started this month behind last year, super light and entry level are ahead of 2019. The Cessna Citation Excel / XLS is the busiest aircraft in the branded charter fleets in January 2023, but its charter footprint is down 24% compared to January last year, 27% fewer flight hours compared to January last year. The Gulfstream G300/400, Hawker Beechjet 400 and Bombardier Challenger 300 are all top branded charter aircraft seeing double digit declines in hours flown compared to last year.

Chart 4: Business jet segments, ranked by flights January 2023 compared to previous years

Between January 1st – 9th, 9,000 business jet flights were operated in Europe, 13% fewer than the comparable January last year, 9% more than pre-pandemic January. In the last four weeks activity is 9% behind the same four weeks a year ago. Despite a 12% decrease in flights compared to last year France is the busiest European market so far this month, followed by the UK and Switzerland. Switzerland and Germany are both experiencing double digit declines in flights compared to last January. Bizjet departures from Russia are down almost 80% compared to January last year.

Over 5,500 bizjet flights this month in Europe have been less than 90 minutes in length, 62% of all bizjet flights this month, 12% more than in pre-pandemic 2019. Long haul and ultra-long haul flights have seen double digit growth compared to 2019, down 1% and up 25% compared to last year. Focusing on just turboprop aircraft, flight activity is 6% ahead of January last year, 9% ahead of January 2019.

Chart 5: European Bizjet flights ranked by length, January 2023, compared to previous years

Rest of World
Outside of North America and Europe, bizjet activity has started January 38% above comparable last year. Demand is 82% above pre-pandemic January and 50% above 2021. In the last four weeks activity in the Middle East is up 28% compared to a year ago, Africa up 23%, Asia up 35%, South America up 23%. Al Maktoum is the busiest bizjet airport so far this month in the ROW region, although flights are down 10% compared to last year. Brazil is the busiest ROW market so far this month followed by India and Australia. Flights from the United Arab Emirates are 4% behind January last year.

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