REPORT: Business aviation trending down

(PHOTO: Gulfstream)

Use this oneGlobal business aviation movements are trending down by 12 percent so far in September, an improvement on the year on year declines of 20 percent, 18 percent and 16 percent for June, July and August respectively, according to a WingX Advance report. Business aviation activity continues to be more resilient than commercial aviation, with commercial sectors down 57 percent and 60 percent respectively for the US and Europe in September, a deterioration on some very limited recovery in August. For business aviation, 65 percent of global activity in September has been US-based, with YEAR ON YEAR trends wavering at around 13 percent below year on year. In the next busiest market, Europe, activity has slid back this month with business aviation sectors 6 percent behind September 2019 compared to a 3 percent bounce in August.

Charter demand is buoying the recovery in flight activity in the US; flight hours by branded charter operators are down 12 percent for the year but have bounced back in the summer and are up 4 percent so far this month. The regional pattern is varied, with charter operations way behind at historically busiest airports like Teterboro, McCarran Las Vegas and Oakland, but activity out of Van Nuys is 5 percent ahead year on year, and there were much bigger gains in charters in the last fortnight from Miami-Opa Locka, West Palm Beach and Nantucket. Branded charter operations from the US to Bahamas are up 11 percent in September. The most popular aircraft are King Air 350, Citation XLS, PC-12 and there is notable growth in charter activity on Citation X and Lear 60 jets.

There are also some signs this month of flight activity emerging from US States as economic activity emerges from lockdowns. From California, business jet and prop activity is down by only 6 percent this month, having stagnated 15 percent below normal through most of August. New York has seen a strong pick up, now 12 percent below versus its 30 percent year on year deficit last month. In contrast, business aviation demand out of neighbouring New Jersey is moribund, still 50 percent below normal. Texas has shown little improvement so far this month, but Florida has rebounded, with the Labour Day effect generating 17 percent more activity through the first two weeks of September. Colorado continues to attract more business jet travellers, and arrivals into Arizona are up 4 percent this month.

Across all mission types, September activity shows continued preference for small and midsize jets versus larger cabin, and this is reflected in flight hours, twice as depressed as flight sectors. Ultra-Long Range jet sectors, for example, are down 18 percent In September, with flight hours down by 32 percent. Conversely, Super Light jets are flat in terms of flights, slightly ahead for hours. The strongest performing segment in Europe is Very Light Jet, sectors up by 9 percent so far in September, mainly due to charter demand. The older Entry Level segment is also flying more than last year, CJ2 picking up strong charter demand. In the midsize class, Challenger 300/350 is busiest, with charter activity within 5 percent of normal. The older Hawker 800 platform is also doing well in the charter market.

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