Industry recovery slows as some travel restrictions reimposed

Yves Le Marquand

Global business aviation flight activity for July is down 20% on 2019 levels, an improvement on the 30% year-on-year (YoY) deficit in June, according to the latest report from WingX. But the number of flights since mid-July – when activity which touched 85% of 2019 volumes – has fallen, reports WingX.

The Germany-based business aviation data analysis operation published its second-quarter (Q2) results today (July 30th). WingX reported that globally the industry has lost 86,000 sectors so far in July compared with the same period July 2019 – representing a 20% decline.

The reversal is clearest in the US, where seven-day average daily activity has slipped from 7,300 sectors at the start of July to around 6,800 in recent days. The declines are weighted towards weekdays, down by at least a quarter, compared with weekends. WingX noted for North America as a whole, the July activity trend is – 23% month-to-date, which it says mirrors waning activity in Canada and Mexico.

‘Really struggling’

Further virus outbreaks in several US states have braked recovery in flight activity.. Business aviation flights in California, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina all stalled at 20% below the YoY figure and New York activity remains down by a third YoY. “The East Coast hubs are really struggling, with White Plains almost 40% down for the month, Teterboro still 60% shy of normal July activity. Gains in YoY activity out of Florida and Arizona persevere, but they’re barely 1% up YoY. Palm Beach is an outlier, with activity gains of 20%.”

Alongside the Florida airport, there are some other exceptions to the decline. Flights out of Aspen, Colorado, are up by 18% this month, Denver is only 2% down, Salt Lake City, Utah, is 2% up while Van Nuys airport, California, trails by 6% so far in July.

Stronger recovery in July

Across the Atlantic, Europe continues to see stronger recovery in July, with regional activity now only 14% down, and just 6% down in the past seven days. France has registered more than 10,000 flights in the month, 12.5% under YoY, and Germany is just 2.5% below normal for July’s monthly average. WingX said Switzerland has a similarly flat trend, and several countries – Austria, Belgium, Croatia – are seeing more flights than in July 2019.

Spain has shown the strongest recovery this month, with the domestic market, which accounts for 40% of its traffic, seeing more than 10% growth. Mallorca´s flights are up 22% and Ibiza is only 8% under average levels. UK visits to Spain are up 12%, arrivals from Switzerland up 29%, and from Germany, 40%. WingX notes however, this picture may change in the next week, following the re-imposition of UK quarantine on travellers to Spain.

Elsewhere in Europe, WingX data showed Nice is back in action, flights have recovered to 83% of pre-Covid activity. Le Bourget is still trailing but now only 31% behind. Swiss airports are seeing much improved activity, with Geneva flat YoY and Zurich just 1.5% adrift. The Russian market has been fairly robust, 8% below normal, and Vnukovo is recovering, flights down by 12%. UK, Italy and Greece are the wayward countries.  The UK´s top airport, Farnborough, WingX said is still very low with flights down 40%. Biggin Hill has taken second spot from Luton, flights up at 94% of normal.

Farnborough still very low

Outside Europe and the US, business aviation flight activity is lagging in Africa and Middle East, a third behind usual activity, with recovery stalling at 85% of normal in Asia, 95% in Oceania. In those regions, China’s activity has oscillated around 10% below average, and the Australian market is just off usual levels. Elsewhere, recorded business aviation activity in Brazil and Columbia is up YoY. India is only a little adrift, the UAE has seen a 17% increase in flight activity this month, but Saudi Arabia continues to slump, 40% below levels last July reported WingX.

Richard Koe, WingX Founder, said: “The recovery in business aviation activity has taken a knock as travel restrictions persist, but the sector is still showing much more resilience than the scheduled sector; bizav trends are heading towards a 20% decline for the US in July, in stark contrast to 50% deficit in airline connections. The recovery in Europe has released pent-up demand slightly later, just in time for peak summer season. Unfortunately, unpredictable quarantine interventions have probably already introduced sufficient uncertainty to limit the extent of that recovery in the second half of the summer.”

Business aviation flight activity in July – at a glance

  • North America: East Coast hubs struggling, July activity down 23% overall, Palm Beach is outlier up 20%

 

  • South America: Brazilian and Colombian activity up YoY

 

  • Europe: Stronger recovery regional activity down 14% YoY, Germany down 2.5%, UK, Italy and Greece are wayward countries.

 

  • Asia: Stalling at 85% of 2019 levels, China’s activity around 10% below average, India is just below average, the UAE has seen a 17% increase in activity, Saudi Arabia continues to slump, 40% below YoY.

 

  • Asia Pacific Region: Activity at 95% in Oceania, Australia is recorded just below YoY average

 

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