Unlocked US States boost activity, Europe picking up

11 Mar 2021

Issuing date: March 11th, 2021

According to WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker 

Overall Comment:
Business aviation in the US is remarkably buoyant, with clear growth on the pre-pandemic period in 2020, Florida joined by a host of other unlocked States in seeing a sharp rebound in travel demand. Activity in Europe is getting closer to normal, with trends also starting to reflect comparison with the slowdown pre-lockdown in March 2020. In Asia, especially China, flight activity is already reflecting the recovery from the lockdown in progress a year ago.

United States:
The United States is now seeing a rapid recovery in business aviation activity. This demand is clearly being driven from the dozen US States which are now unlocking travel restrictions. Analysing business aviation activity in these 12 States, departures since the start of March are up 11% year on year. This compares very favourably with the 5% decline in the Jan-Feb 2021 period, and the 25% decline in the March-Dec 2020 period. Iowa, Connecticut and North Dakota are the only States still behind pre-pandemic trends. Midsize jets are flying most, sectors up 30% YOY. Half the 15,000 sectors flown out of these States this month has been out of Texas, demand rebounding from the big freeze as well as lockdown, driving a 14% YOY increase in business jet movements.

The latest unlocked States join Florida in seeing strong trends in business aviation traffic; the Sunshine State is up 19% in business jet and prop traffic so far this month, up 15% up this year versus 2020. In fact, since the pandemic struck 12 months ago, business aviation traffic is down only 6%. So far in March 2021, Very Light Jet activity in Florida is up 45% YOY. At the other end of the spectrum, ultra-long range jets are flying 23% more sectors than in March 2020. Flights from Florida to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Colombia, Costa Rica are up by over 50%. Charter operations in Florida are up 27% this month, 25% so far this year. West Palm Beach, Miami-Opa Locka Executive and Naples airports are all seeing record traffic levels this year. At Teterboro, business jet traffic is still trailing by 40% YOY this month.

Into March 2021, global flight activity is down by 33% compared to the same period March 2020. Scheduled airline operations are back-marking at 42% fewer sectors than this time last year, whilst cargo operations are up 18%, demand continuing to grow. Business aviation activity is down by only 2% this month, with 94,625 sectors flown through 8th March, 1,800 fewer sectors than in comparable pre-pandemic March 2020. Business aviation now accounts for 19% of all fixed wing flights so far this year, compared to 12% share before March 2020. Year-to-date trend for business aviation traffic globally is 8% below normal, compared to the 24% fall in fleet utilisation last year.

Chart 1 – Comparison of scheduled and business aviation in Texas

Click to expand

Despite still being in lockdown, Europe is seeing markedly stronger trends in business aviation compared to the scheduled airlines; non-scheduled jet and prop activity is down by 12%, compared to a mammoth 74% shortfall in passenger airline flights. For the first two months of 2021, business aviation movements in Europe were down by 26%, so March is showing strong improvement at this point. Flight activity in Italy has rebounded, much higher than in early March 2020, which may start to reflect the YOY effect as Italy went into lockdown on March 9th 2020 but was already curbing travel before that date. Meanwhile there continues to be strong growth in business aviation traffic in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Greece, Hungary and Serbia.

The UK continues to see the worst impact from ongoing lockdown, with business aviation flights down by over 50% into March 2021. Luton has fallen behind Biggin Hill to be the 3rd busiest airport for business jets this month, 70% fewer flights than last year. Both Farnborough and Biggin Hill are down by almost half compared to March last year.

Chart 2 – Business vs Scheduled pair deterioration, Paris airports, Jan – Feb – Mar 2021

Click to expand

Rest of World:
Outside the UK, Europe and the US, the global trend in business jet activity is 12% below normal. Despite strong business jet connections between the US and Mexico, flights within Mexico are down by 19%. Flights within Brazil have fallen 40%, having been up most of the last 6 months; this reflects the cancellation of the 2021 Carnival. Business jet activity in Canada is also well below normal, 40% lower than in March 2020. The UAE and Nigeria continue to see very strong YOY growth, and China’s traffic, up almost three times compared to March 2020, indicates the YOY rebound from the country’s extended lockdown in March 2020.

Categories: COVID Recovery


The WINGX Daily TRACKER provides you with a daily-updated dashboard on all business aviation flights operated globally.