Softening demand but large cabin activity holding up well

9 Mar 2023

09/03/2023 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

The European market softened further in February, with trajectory back towards 2019 levels, although the loss of Russian customers year-on-year will elapse next month. In the North American market, the charter market is now some way off its peak but retains solid gains on 2019. The Super Mid and larger cabins are still flying near record levels. In the Middle East, bizjet activity at the Bahrain GP demonstrates very strong demand in the region.

Worldwide business jet sectors in Week 9 of 2023, 27th February through 5th March amounted to 67,788 sectors, a 4% decrease compared to Week 8 2023, a 10% decrease compared to the same dates in 2022. This is an acceleration on the global trend for the last 4 weeks, trending 6% behind the same dates in 2022. Global Part135 and Part91K bizjet activity in week 9 was 18% below the same dates last year, 26% ahead of the same dates in 2019. Year to date (Jan 1st – March 6th), business jet activity is 3% behind last year, still 16% ahead of 2019.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flights, March 1st – 6th 2023 compared to previous years.
(Note business aviation includes turboprops)

North America
Business jet sectors finished the month of February 6% down compared to last year, 12% up compared to 2019. 193,521 flights departed United States airports, 6% down compared to February 2022, although 15% up compared to 2019. Elsewhere Mexico was 3% up compared to last year, still 27% down compared to 2019. Canada was up 4% compared to last year, still down 17% compared to 2019. Domestic United States business jet sectors were down 7% in February compared with February 2022, 16% more than 2019. International bizjet sectors were 5% ahead of February last year, 14% ahead of 2019.

The busiest US airport pair in February was Palm Beach – Teterboro, flights up 11% compared to January, 1% fewer than February 2022. Branded Charter fleets saw the largest declines in activity compared to February 2022. Activity across larger jets in the region in February was mixed. Super Midsize sectors were on par with last year, 26% ahead of 2019, although flight hours were down 2% compared to last year. Heavy jets sectors are down 11% compared to last year, hours are down 12%, Ultra-Long-Range Jet sectors are 3% ahead of last year and flight hours are 4% ahead of last year.

Chart 2: United States bizjet Operator Types 1st February – 28th February 2023 compared to previous years.

Trans-Atlantic bizjet sectors (North America – Europe), finished February on par with last year, 2% ahead of February 2019. The Global Express/ 6000 series was the busiest bizjet on Trans-Atlantic flights in February, Teterboro – Luton was the busiest airport pair. So far in March activity is 16% ahead of March last year, 25% ahead of March 2019.

Chart 3: Top 5 Trans-Atlantic Business Jet Operator Types February 1st – 28th 2023 compared to previous years.

In Europe, 9,216 bizjet sectors were flown in week 9, 2% more than in week 8, 15% fewer than the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks activity is 10% below the same dates in 2022. Scheduled airline activity in February has rebounded 25% above February 2022, although still 22% behind pre-pandemic February 2019.

Business jet sectors in February were down 10% compared to last year, although 5% above 2019. Excluding Russia and the trend for February was 7% below last year, 9% above 2019. 70% of February’s bizjet flights were international, these down 13% compared to last year, although 7% ahead of 2019. Domestic flights in February were down 3% compared to last year, 2% ahead of February 2019.

Bizjet activity at airports near European ski resorts was mixed in February this year, Samedan and Innsbruck airports seeing growth compared to last year, Geneva, Sion, Bern , Annecy down on last year. Overall activity in this group of airports was down 8% compared to last year, although 11% ahead of 2019. Branded Charter flights drove demand into these 6 airports, 27% more flights than 2019. Aircraft Management flights into these 6 airports was down 6% compared to 2019, down 21% compared to last year. Larger jets into these 6 airports are up compared to last year, Ultra-Long-Range jets are up 1% compared to last year, bizliners are up 37% compared to last year.

Chart 4: Bizjet departures from European Ski Resort Airports, February 2023 compared to previous years.

At the start of March (1st – 6th), activity is just 4% ahead of comparable 2019. Sweden is the only major market to see growth compared to last year, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Austria are seeing small declines compared to 2019. Paris Le-Bourget – Geneva is the busiest airport pair so far this month, although flights are 6% behind comparable last year. So far this month Very Light Jets are retaining the largest growth compared to 2019, bizliners the largest declines compared to 2019. Light jets are flying the most flights so far this month, although sectors 14% behind comparable last year, 5% ahead of 2019.

Rest of World
In Week 9 of 2023, 27th February through 5th March, activity in Africa was on par with the same dates last year, Asia up 21%, Middle East up 10% and South America up 52%. In the first 6 days of March Brazil is the top ROW bizjet market, followed by Australia. China starts this month 6% behind comparable 2019, although 34% ahead of last year. Year to Date (1st Jan – 6th March) bizjet activity in China is 19% ahead of comparable last year, -0.2% behind 2019. In comparison scheduled airline activity is 34% ahead of 2022, 32% below 2019.

Bahrain is seeing triple digit growth compared to last year and over 400% growth compared to 2019. Bahrain’s growth this month is likely due to the hosting of the F1 Grand Prix last weekend (March 3rd – 5th). During the event weekend there were 48 bizjet arrivals into OBBI airport, on average there was 16 daily arrivals during the event days, triple digit growth compared to the average number of daily arrivals in the previous 4 weeks.

Chart 5: Average daily arrivals during Grand Prix days vs 4 week average daily, Bahrain Grand Prix 2019 – 2023. Figures are rounded.

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