UK quarantine blunts business aviation recovery in Europe

10 Jun 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Global business aviation activity is trending down 47% since the start of May, with flights operated during the first 9 days of June down ‘only’ 34%. The market’s recovery is still being led by North America, where flight activity trends are down 31% in June so far. Europe is still lagging, flights down 50% this month, with Asia and Africa trending 35% below normal in June. Aircraft Management Operators have seen the strongest recovery so far, flights down 25% this month. Branded charter activity is down 38% in June, with Fractional ownership activity dawdling at around 40% below usual.

Since the low point in activity in mid April, Scheduled Airline activity has gradually recovered, Cargo activity has stabilized, and Business Aviation has seen strong recovery.


As tracked by trends in rolling 7-day average daily activity, the European market has seen the strongest recovery of any region in the last few weeks. From a low point of 375 departures per day in early May, trending activity had increased to 1,117 flights daily by the 9th of June. Germany has been the busiest market during this period, with jet and prop flights up to 57% of last year’s levels. Sweden and Norway are trending down around 25%, with next most resilient markets Turkey and Russia. Normally top market France is down 60%, and worst affected markets in Europe are Spain, Italy, and UK, down 70%.

North America largest market, declined less than Europe, has recovered faster. Europe recently recovering fast. Oceania stabilized, shallow decline. South America stagnating. Asia recovering.

Despite seeing a severe lockdown since mid-March, the UK had seen some solid recovery as restrictions got softened in May, reflected in a doubling of daily flight activity since then. There was a surge in activity running up to the quarantine on 8th June, then 2 days of precipitous declines, with business aviation arrivals into the UK from outside the UK falling from over 100 flights on the 7th June to just over 30 flights into the UK on the 8th and 9th. Business aviation flight activity in the rest of Europe has continued to improve this week, with average daily activity by 9th of June up 30% on the end of May.

Precipitous declines in Ultra Long Range, Heavy, Super Mid, Super Light segments, with faster recovery in the medium cabin. Shallower decline and better recoveries for Prop and VLJ.

Stepping back, business aviation trends globally continue to see a shift towards lighter aircraft utilisation. Bizliner traffic is 80% below normal for June so far, with Ultra-Long range and Heavy Jets flying 50% below. Super Mid, Mid and Super Light jet flights are down around 35%. Light jets have flown a third of all business jet sectors this month, activity trailing 27% year on year. Very Light and Entry Level activity is most resilient, down by just over 20%, with turboprop activity slightly stagnating at 38% below normal. The business jet type with relatively the least decline is the CJ3, flights down only 9% in June.

Business aviation activity represented around 12% of total fixed wing activity pre-crisis, and now represents over 25%, reflecting this sector’s strong 7D recovery trend.

The airport ranking this month continues to see West Palm Beach top-ranked, with growth in year on year flights over the last 2 weeks. Scottsdale and Naples have also seen strong year on year growth since the end of May. Teterboro has climbed back to 4th place but activity is still down by 74% in June. Over in Europe, Le Bourget is still busiest this month, but activity flagging by over 60% compared to the same dates last year. Zurich and Geneva are next busiest and recovering faster. Farnborough and Biggin Hill are busiest UK airports.

Richard Koe comments: “It’s encouraging to see the North American market continuing to come back, especially in Florida, and business aviation in Europe has accelerated its recovery in the last fortnight. It’s a shame that the traditional high point in European business aviation demand will get blunted by quarantines through the rest of June, especially in the UK, but operators are reportedly seeing strong bookings for July by which point many more restrictions will be lifted. With commercial airline capacity severely cut back, and the airline passenger experience complicated to say the least, business aviation could see a belated surge in July.”

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Categories: COVID Impact