Business jet activity in the USA is remarkably buoyant, while European operations are starting to pick up, according to WINGX’s weekly Global Market Tracker. Business aviation accounts for 19% of all fixed-wing activity so far this year, compared with 12% for the same period in 2020. The year to date decline of 8% compares with a 24% fall in business jet utilisation last year.
The recovery is being spearhead by the USA, with demand being driven by the 12 states which are unlocking travel restrictions, where departures in March are up 11% year-on-year, which compares with a 5% drop in January and February, and a 25% decline in March to December. Mid-size jets are flying most sectors – up 30% year-on-year. Half of the 15,000 sectors flown out of these open states this month have been out of Texas, with demand rebounding from the big freeze as well as lockdown, driving a 14% year-on-year increase in business jet movements.
Europe is seeing an improvement in March after suffering a 26% drop in business aviation movements in January and February. But the UK continues to struggle, with business aviation flights down 50% so far in March.
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, is seeing a sharp rebound in travel demand. Activity in Europe is getting closer to normal, with trends also starting to reflect comparison with the pre-lockdown slowdown in March 2020. In Asia, especially China, flight activity is already reflecting the recovery from the lockdown in progress a year ago.
USA IN FOCUS
Iowa, Connecticut and North Dakota are the only unlocked states still down on pre-pandemic trends. Florida is up 19% in business jet and prop traffic so far this month, and up 15% this year versus 2020. 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% year-on-year. 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 and 25% so far this year. West Palm Beach, Miami-Opa Locka Executive and Naples airports are all seeing record traffic levels. At Teterboro, business jet traffic is still trailing by 40% YOY this month.
Business aviation is seeing markedly stronger trends compared to the scheduled airlines. Non-scheduled jet and prop activity is 12% down, compared to a mammoth 74% shortfall in passenger airline flights. In January and February business aviation movements were down by 26%, so March is showing strong improvement at this point.
Flight activity in Italy is much higher than in early March 2020, which may start to reflect the year-on-year effect, as Italy went into lockdown on 9 March 9 2020 but was already curbing travel before then. 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 third-busiest airport for business jets this month, with 70% fewer flights than last year. Both Farnborough and Biggin Hill are down by almost half compared to March last year.
REST OF THE WORLD FOCUS
Business jet activity is 12% below normal. Despite strong business jet connections between the USA and Mexico, flights within Mexico are down by 19%. Flights within Brazil have fallen 40%, having been up most of the last six months, reflecting the cancellation of the 2021 Carnival.
Canada is also well below normal and 40% down on March 2020. The UAE and Nigeria continue to see very strong year-on-year growth, while China’s traffic is up almost three times compared to March 2020, building on the rebound from the country’s extended lockdown in March last year.