Whilst US recovery ebbs, European bizav surges in August

13 Aug 2020

Issuing date: August 12th 2020

According to WINGX weekly Global Market Tracker

Over the last 30 days, through 11th August, global business aviation activity has trailed last year by 17%, with Europe the most resilient region, flights down by only 5%. In the first 10 days of August, the overall picture has not changed much but European bizav activity has significantly brightened, showing a 0.1% increase in sectors flown compared to August 2019. The deadweight has been the US market, where the recovery stalled in early July. Only in the last few days has some momentum returned, regaining the 7-day rolling average activity from end of June. Since then, the US has seen a YOY deficit of just over 75,000 business aviation flights.

There has been very strong pent-up demand for bizav flights in several countries in Europe, most notably Croatia, activity up 50% YOY; Czech Republic seeing 30% more flights vs August 2019; flights from Russia up by 26%; between 15% and 20% YOY growth in flights in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands; and busiest market France getting 5% more flights YOY. The UK is still down by 5% this month, but that marks a big improvement from the 30% decline in UK activity during July. Only Spain has gone backwards; the country had seen a significant bounce in July, was actually ahead YOY, but the trend in August has receded to 10% decline YOY. Worst off in August is Italy, with bizav flights still trailing by 20% YOY.

Ninety-seven percent of the bizav flights flown in Europe so far in August have had destinations within Europe. Transatlantic connections this month are down by 60%. The biggest intra-regional gains have come from flights within France, 1,558 in the first 11 days of the month, an increase of 25% YOY. The busiest connection is from Paris to the south of France, with flights from Le Bourget to Nice up by 12%, and from Le Bourget to Cannes, an 85% YOY increase. Getaway holiday destinations in Corsica, Brest, Brittany have hit record numbers. In neighbouring Germany, domestic activity is also well up YOY. Munich is the busiest German airport, 8% growth in flights, then Schoenefeld, activity up 20%. Sylt is the most popular domestic getaway, arrivals up almost 50%.

In the US, the slowdown in June’s precipitous recovery in business aviation activity is a result of lockdown 2.0, especially in the country’s primary user regions in California, Texas, Florida. Florida, the busiest US State through early summer and the quickest to regain and then surpass 2019 traffic, is now trailing YOY activity by 8%. California and Texas have seen some recovery in flight operations, but  still down 17% YOY so far in August. Of the other busiest States, Colorado is one of the bright spots, with arrivals up 7% this month, and notably flight hours up 14%; attracting visitors from across the country. Bizav flights out of New York State are still down almost 40% YOY.

There is significant variation across US airports, with Dallas Love Field the busiest in August, flights up by 12% compared to last year. Denver Centennial is popular, arrivals up 7%, and Aspen continues to draw a big crowd, bizav visitors up by 26%. National Park destinations such as Eagle County airport have seen much more traffic than normal. Van Nuys has remained pretty buoyant, activity down 3% this month. The big losers are the East Coast airports, especially those reliant on corporate travel and international connections; Westchester is trailing YOY activity by 34%, and Teterboro’s bizav departures are down 57% so far this month, little changed from June and July. Similarly, metropolitan traffic to and from Dulles, Atlanta and Las Vegas is still well below normal.

Outside the US and Europe, the most stable region continues to be Oceania, with mostly domestic flying in Australia slightly up YOY, although New Zealand´s bizav is almost 20% below normal levels. Flight activity in Brazil and Colombia is holding up despite the spread of the pandemic Mexico is amongst the worst- affected, bizav activity at only 50% of normal. Africa likewise has shown little recovery in the last 3 months, still down by a third in August. In the Middle East there is a significant contrast between strong YOY growth out of Qatar, and a deficit of almost 40% in sectors flown from and within Saudi Arabia. The Asia-Pac region has shown some recovery, aggregate trend 12% below, with China’s activity well recovered this month, up 10% versus same period in August 2019.

Richard Koe comments: “Business aviation activity has weathered the virus 2nd wave concerns in Europe so far, but not in the US. The overall result is that activity is bobbing around at 80% of normal, which is still a lot better than Scheduled Airlines, operating at around 50% of normal levels for August. What we have seen so far is a limited recovery in the leisure market, distinguished by demand for lighter aircraft, domestic flights, and popularity for remote rural and island destinations. The corporate demand is still largely parked. As the scale of the economic recovery materialises, we will see how that demand is affected as we move towards the end of the summer.”

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