WEF and EBACE bizjet attendance corroborates peak demand

26 May 2022

26/5/2022 – WINGX’s weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Feedback from the renewed EBACE convention in May 2022 affirmed the industry’s record-breaking activity but also highlighted concerns that the market may be peaking. In the short term, demand is outstripping supply. In the longer terms, economic headwinds could shake out a significant portion of the industry’s recently gained new entrants.

Worldwide, there have been 358,448 business jet and turboprop sectors flown in the first 23 days of May 2022. Flight activity, measured by sectors flown, is well above pre-pandemic levels, 19% more than May last year, 148% more than locked down May 2020 and 13% above pre-covid May 2019. Global scheduled airline sectors are up 37% versus May last year but still down 23% on pre-covid May. Cargo operators are flying 4% less in May than during the same period last year and 2% less than pre-covid May. Year to date 2.1 million business jet and turboprop sectors have been flown globally, accounting for 18% of all global fixed wing activity, and flying 15% above comparable 2019.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flight activity in Jan 1st – May 23rd, 2022 (bizav = jets and props)

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Business jets continue to be in demand across Europe, sectors flown in the first 23 days of May 2022 are up 31% on last year, up 17% compared to pre-pandemic May. Major events are likely to contribute to a strong month for bizjets in Europe. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos this week is underway and influencing bizjet arrivals at nearby airports. In the last most recent edition, in January 2020, the WEF airports (Zurich/LSZH, Duebendorf /LSMD, Altenrhein / LSZR, St. Moritz/LSZS) attracted 174 bizjet arrivals in the first two days of the event. In the first two reported days of this year’s event, May 22nd – 23rd 2022, there were 248 arrivals (228 aircraft) at the same airports. Back in 2019, the first two days attracted 156 arrivals (142 aircraft).

In terms of WEF connections, the first two days’ activity is showing 40 arrivals direct from the US. The UK is the second most popular origin point, generating 34 arrivals. Thirty-two arrivals have come in from France. Ultra-long-range aircraft are the most represented segment, with 91 such business jets tracked across the opening two days. Specifically, the two most popular platforms are the Bombardier Global Express/6000 and the Gulfstream G600/650. It’s a busy month for business jets in Europe; the Spanish F1 Grand Prix saw a surge in bizjet arrivals at Girona and Barcelona. The average number of daily bizjet arrivals into these airports between 1st – 23rd May was 25. The day before the first practice session saw 53 bizjets arrive, with a further 88 bizjet arrivals over the weekend.

Chart 2: Fractional and Charter vs Commercial Airline connections from Zurich 1st – 23rd May 2022

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North America
The North American region saw 190,000 Business jet departures in the first 23 days of May, up 19% compared to pre-pandemic May 2019. More than 90% of the activity is domestic, with US-Canada the busiest international connection, up 150% on last year, still 17% down on pre-pandemic May. Business jet departures from the US to Europe are particularly strong, with flights to the United Kingdom up 229% compared to last year, France up 348%, Switzerland up 256%. Fractional programs and branded charter are both seeing double digit growth on international bizjet flights, up 39% and 17% retrospectively compared to May 2019.

Chart 3: International business jet connections from United States, May 1st – 23rd 2022

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Rest of World
Outside Europe and North America, multiple countries continue to see double digit growth compared to pre-pandemic May 2019, flights in Brazil up 90%, Australia by 49%, India by 86% and UAE up 98%. Saudi Arabia is the largest bizjet connection from the UAE, arrivals up 80% compared to pre-pandemic May. Departures to Russia from the UAE are down 64% compared to last May, 27% below May 3 years ago. Turning to East Asia, bizjet flights out of China are half of pre-pandemic May and down by two thirds compared to last year. South Korea is seeing 75% growth compared to last year, however 19% below 2019. Bizjets departing Japan buck the trend for the region, up 76% compared to last year and 7% above May 3 years ago.

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