The fall-off in activity this month bucks the recent growth trend. This may reflect some wavering in the economic outlook, especially in the UK, but it may also be a specific effect such as the earlier Easter holiday this year. This month still had growth in AOC/Charter, especially in business jets, in contrast to the marked fall in Private missions. Some specific aircraft, notably Phenom 300, PC12 and Legacy 600, continue to get very strong growth in demand.
There was a decline in YOY business aviation flights from Europe in March 2018, 3.6% fewer departures than in March 2017. Business jets operated 70% of all sectors, this fleet’s activity up 0.4% YOY, with 6% gains in AOC/Charter offsetting 10% drop in Private flights.
Compared to March 2017, most of the biggest markets were down this month, with Germany, Italy and UK seeing the largest falls. Spain was an exception with 2.6% YOY growth. Apart from the UK, all the top European markets are still up YTD 2018.
In the smaller markets, activity dropped off by 11% in Belgium, by 18% in Turkey and Ireland. Russia’s outbound activity was flat, and there was >10% growth from Greece and Poland. Overall, business aviation flights within Europe were down by 4%.
International activity was largely down this month, with flights from Europe to North America falling 7%, and down 5% for departures to Asia-Pac. Flights from Europe to the Middle East were up by 2% YOY, and to Africa, up by 4%.
At the aggregate level, declines this month came from Private flights, which were down by 10% YOY, the biggest monthly drop since 2016. This heavy decline in owner flying was reflected across Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France and UK.
AOC/Charter activity was up by 2% YOY, a slowdown in recent growth trend but maintaining monthly increases since 2016. Growth in these flights exceeded 5% in France, Switzerland and Spain, although some decline in Germany and UK.
Declines in business jet activity this month were marked in Large Aircraft categories, with >10% declines in Germany and Italy, although Large Jet departures grew 14% from Spain. Smaller Jet activity was up in Switzerland, Italy and France.
All the OEM fleets saw an overall decline in activity, except for Embraer and Pilatus, with the Phenom 300, Legacy 600 and PC12 all seeing strong YOY growth in activity. Strongest segment growth this month came from SMJ and ELJ, modest increase in SLJ & LJ.
LFPB was the only leading airport to see some decline this month. Most airports were boosted by increase in AOC/Charter activity, offsetting the YOY declines in Private flights. EGLF had the stand-out growth this month, departures up by 18% vs March 2017.