Thanksgiving holiday boosts global bizav traffic

2 Dec 2020

Issuing date: December 2nd, 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Almost sixty thousand fewer business aviation sectors were flown globally in November 2020 compared to November 2019, a YOY decline of 17%, only modestly worse than the October YOY trend. Scheduled airline traffic has subsided 50% in the same comparative period, with scheduled cargo operations picking up 5% last month. For business jet and turboprop activity, it’s been a variable month, with a big dip in the first two weeks and then a Thanksgiving-powered recovery in the second half. The improved North American trend is now diverging from a weaker European market. Business aviation flight activity across Asia is within 5% of normal, above normal in Oceania, robust overall in South America, and an improving 9% deficit for flight activity in Africa.

The 4-day Thanksgiving period, from Thursday through Sunday, saw 33,227 business aviation departures in the US, a decline of just under 10% compared to the same Thanksgiving period in 2019. That compares to 16% YOY decline during the rest of the month. Thanksgiving in Canada took activity within 6% of normal, much stronger than 20% shortfall in the previous month. In the US, Arizona and Colorado stood out with almost 10% growth in arrivals during Thanksgiving. Oregon, Indiana, Wyoming, and Utah all saw substantial YOY growth. Flight departures out of the Dakotas was up well over 30%. Notably, business aviation activity out of Florida was down by 9% during Thanksgiving, although Florida activity was up by 3% for the full month.

Branded charter operators flew 15% of sectors flown during Thanksgiving, activity down 12% YOY. Half of all flights operated were Private, and these saw a very large improvement, activity down just 5%, which compares to 23% decline for the full month. Busiest international connection was with Mexico, this flow down only 7% YOY. Flights to Canada were down by 50%, but Thanksgiving connections with Sint Martin were up 3%, flights, up 12% to St Vincent, and up by almost 90% to Costa Rica. Domestic US activity analysis highlights West Palm Beach as by far the busiest Thanksgiving airport, with flights up by 3 times YOY. Chicago, Centennial and Salt Lake International all saw more than 10% YOY growth. Arrivals into Honolulu more than doubled this Thanksgiving period compared to 2019.

Back in Europe, activity trends are flagging, with rolling 7-day trends starting the month at just under 1,500 sectors a day, ending the month 17% lower. The biggest markets are suffering most, with the UK the backmarker, flights down by half this November versus last year. Business aviation activity in Germany, which grew YOY in August, is now over 30% behind. Italy is as badly affected by Lockdown 2.0, with flights down by 36%. France is relatively less affected, flights down by 21%, and flights from Switzerland, Norway and Sweden are within 10% of normal. The outliers continue to be Russia, Turkey, and Greece where activity is well up on November 2019. At the airport level, Vnukovo is narrowly the 2nd busiest airport in Europe, departures up by 11%. Flights out of Le Bourget are down by 51%.

Charter activity is best weathering the latest setback in Europe, retreating to 82% of usual activity for this time of year, although there are some bright spots for business jet platforms including the Citation Mustang, Legacy 600, Hawker/Nextant and CJ1 aircraft. There are particularly strong Charter trends in November from Moscow to Dubai, Riga, Nice, and charter flights between Nice and Geneva were also up. Regular shuttles have cropped up between Le Bourget and Clermont-Ferrand, Bournemouth and Guernsey, Malaga and Tangiers. Notably, shorter sector Charter flights are not showing much recovery, with the November demand instead coming on longer sectors, with 3-4 hours sectors up by 12%, and 4-5 hours sectors up by 31%.

Outside Europe and the US, November saw a decline of 18% in charter sectors, but notably only 9% in flight hours; there was an emphasis towards longer flights, notably from the Middle East, especially UAE and Israel. The majority of business aviation activity in the rest of the world was Private, with some significant growth YOY in China, Nigeria, India, Colombia. Business jet traffic was notably elevated at Los Cabos, São Paulo Congonhas, Al Maktoum, Ataturk, Lagos and Shenzen. Busiest business jets in November across these regions included the Challenger 600, Global 6000 and Hawker 700-900, although the biggest YOY growth came from Legacy 600/650 and CJ2.

Richard Koe comments “Just as the US airlines saw busiest traffic since March during Thanksgiving, business aviation activity also climbed close to its pandemic peak last weekend, lifting the overall trend for November. The resulting impact of crowded airports on virus infections may influence ongoing travel behaviour, with renewed spikes persuading more newcomers to fly private as a health precaution. In Europe, the dynamic variations in lockdown 2.0 are clearly suppressing flight activity, especially in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, lighter restrictions and larger domestic geography have encourage a much stronger recovery.”


WINGX is a data analytics and consulting company which provides actionable market intelligence to the global aviation industry. WINGX services include: Market Insight Reports, Online Dashboards, Customised Research, Strategic Consulting, Market Forecasts and Surveys. WINGX customers include aircraft operators, airframe, engine and avionics OEMs, airlines, maintenance providers, airports, fixed based operators, Satcom providers, fuel providers, legal advisors, leasing companies, banks, regulators, investors and private jet users.

Categories: COVID Recovery


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