According to WINGX’s latest Global Market Tracker data, business aviation activity is trending towards 85% of normal levels, with recovery particularly marked in North America. In the first two months of 2021 there were 445,000 business aviation sectors in North America, only 7% down on the same period last year. The charter market recorded only a 1% drop in departures, while flight hours rose by 4%.
The relative health of business aviation contrasts with other sectors. WINGX reported that global fixed-wing activity is trending down by 43% so far in 2021, with scheduled airline operations down by 52% and cargo operations up by 10%.
“The USA is starting to see an accelerated recovery from the winter pandemic, with both scheduled and business aviation activity opening up, and charter activity setting some new records, especially in Florida,” said Richard Koe, managing director of WINGX Advance. “It’s a different story in Europe, with a long road to run, and international leisure trips all but illegal. This slowdown is very clear in Western Europe, with contrasting openness to the East, business jets being used more than ever within Russia.”
Florida continues to be the US hub for business jet movements, with 16% growth in activity in 2021 and more than 20% growth in charter departures. In February 2021 there were 29,000 flights – 15% up on the same month in 2020.
California is the second busiest US state for business jet traffic, with flight sectors down 11%. Demand in Texas bounced back in the last week of February 2021 after taking a nosedive during the freeze, with flights trending 7% down for the month.
Colorado added 14% in flight activity in February 2021, while Arizona continues to attract more business jet demand than ever and is 5% up on 2020. WINGX says New Jersey looks to be the last state to recover, with flights still lagging 40%. By contrast, New York figures are flat, with strong growth back and forth with Florida.
Meanwhile in Europe, the last week of the period analysed has seen a 34% dip in year-on-year business jet activity, with government activity one of the few resilient sectors. The UK is almost two-thirds down on 2020 while the core Eurozone countries have all seen business jet movements drop at least a third in the second half of February 2021 compared with the same period in 2020.
Demand continues to be stronger than ever for flights in Russia and Turkey, mainly for domestic activity. There is a clear contrast between Western and Eastern Europe, with the latter seeing growth in business jet activity in Ukraine, Romania, Latvia, Croatia and Albania.
In terms of the rest of the world, WINGX said the strongest business jet market is Mexico, which has seen a relatively strong recovery with flights down by 15% in February 2021. Domestic activity is 33% below normal levels, but connections with the USA and the Bahamas are well up.
Nigeria and China continue to see strong growth in domestic use of business jets with the busiest connections in China between Hainan, Beijing and Shenzhen, and in Nigeria between Abuja and Lagos.
Brazil has seen growth in 2021, internationally with Angola, and domestically between Porto Seguro and Congonhas. However, the cancellation of 2021’s Carnival saw a sharp drop in mid-month traffic compared with 2020.
WINGX said that globally, the busiest business jet in February 2020 was the Challenger 300/350. The Nextant flew 8% more sectors than in February 2020.