2/6/2022 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.
The start of summer has seen more record-breaking demand for business jet travel, although the peaks are only modestly higher than May 2021. Widespread disruption and delay across the scheduled airline network should sustain the momentum in business aviation. Aircraft owners are flying a lot more and there are signs of strong corporate business jet usage.
May 2022 was the strongest month of May on record for the global business aviation market, extending a record-breaking 12 month run since the middle of 2021. Through 30th May, there have been 317,222 business jet sectors flown worldwide, 22% more than in the comparable period of May 2019. Corporate flight departments were 10% busier than 3 years ago, whilst Charter, Fractional and Private flight departments flew 30% more sectors than pre-pandemic May 2019. Unprecedented levels of business jet activity continue to correlate with under-par scheduled airline activity; for the month of May, global scheduled airline sectors were 22% below comparable May 2019. Global cargo activity this month was 8% higher than in May 2019, although 3% below comparable May 2021.
Chart 1: Comparable business jet activity in May 2022, 2021, and 2020
The Memorial Day weekend at the end of May provided a useful calibration of leisure demand. Last year, the holiday period provided early evidence of the rebound in demand for business aviation travel, with the long weekend seeing 12% more sectors than in 2019, whilst scheduled airline movements in the same period were still 28% behind pre-pandemic. This year’s Memorial Day weekend saw 32,559 jet and prop sectors, only 1% more than last year, but 13% up on May 2019. Scheduled passenger airlines, widely afflicted by delays and cancellations, were 27% below May 2019, little change from last year. Some business aviation pairs saw strong growth this year vs 2019, such as Nantucket-Teterboro, whereas others had less activity than Memorial Day back then, notably McCarran-Los Angeles.
Chart 2 – Flight activity during Memorial Day weekends in 2019-2022
Business jet activity in North America is still well ahead of pre-pandemic trends, with the overall month seeing 24% growth versus May 3 years ago, and the last week up by 27% compared to week 21 2019. There has been slowdown in sequential week activity, with week 21 seeing 9% fewer sectors flown than in week 20, and Part 135 and 91K flying was down 3% on week 21 last year. On the other hand there are signs of very strong rebound in transatlantic business jet travel, with US bizjet departures to France up 150%, US departures to the UK up by 38%, compared to week 21 back in 2019. The more local leisure destinations like Turks and Caicos, resilient throughout the pandemic, have seen an 11% rise in visitors in the last week compared to 2021, a dizzying 80% increase on the same week in 2019.
Europe is seeing a stellar month in terms of business jet demand, 31% more flights this last week than in week 21 back in 2019, and for the month of May, activity is up by 20% compared to May 2019. Business jet connections between Europe and Russia are at a standstill, although outbound flights from Russia to Turkey, Armenia, Kazakhstan, were all higher last month than in May 2019. Business jet flights within Russia in May 2022 were down 9% versus May 2019, although down by 52% compared to May last year. In Western Europe, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Champions League were two of the biggest draws for business jet flights. Arrivals into the Monaco GP airports were up 49% compared to the same event in 2019, whilst Champions League visitors to Paris airport exceeded inbound business jet arrivals to Spain in May 2019 by 37%.
Chart 3 – Business jet arrivals for Monaco Grand Prix, 2022 vs 2019
Rest of World
Outside Europe and the US, a third of the business jet traffic came from Canada and Mexico, these two markets seeing more activity this than last May but still less than pre-pandemic May 2019. Other relatively busy markets like Brazil, India, as well as popular hubs like Bahamas and Dominican Republic are seeing record levels of activity, although arrivals into Bermuda haven’t yet recovered. Business jet movements in Singapore have rebounded above pre-pandemic levels. Business aviation traffic in China was down by 66% this May compared to May last year, with no obvious improvements since the lockdowns started to ease. Hong Kong arrivals are up 10% on last year, but down 49% on pre-pandemic May.
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