North America is leading the recovery in global business aviation, as worldwide flight activity reached two-thirds of normal levels in the first half of June, according to the latest data from business aviation intelligence service WINGX.
Business flights for the first half of June exceeded all activity in April but were still 33% below the same period last year. The rolling average daily flight activity continued to improve in June, with the 9,300 sectors operated on June 16th. That represented 22% growth compared with daily activity at the end of May and a rise of more than 150% on the trough seen in daily activity in April.
North America continued to lead the recovery in business aviation, with flights over the weekend of June 13th and 14th only 17% below the same weekend last year. Overall, North American business flight activity was 30% down in the first 16 days of June and 27% below the same period of 2019 in the core US market.
Business aviation has been strongest in Florida, with more severe lock downs in California, New Jersey and Texas holding back recovery, Richard Koe, WINGX MD and co-founder told Corporate Jet Investor. “The still-high infections in Texas and California may subdue gradual recovery and the same may now occur in Florida; as that state is now high-ranking in infections. Whereas, recovery from the virus in New Jersey may see a faster recovery in that state.”
Uptick in business aviation recovery
The uptick in business aviation recovery is what would be expected, as lock downs are released in Europe and North America, he added. “It’s clear in the US that the recovery is coming in leisure flights, with June weekend activity already within 20% of normal levels.”
Miami Palm Beach remained the busiest airport for private aviation. The airport, together with Opa-Locka and Naples, achieved growth in the first half of June 2020 compared with June 2019. Flight activity at Scottsdale in Arizona also climbed but Teterboro departures were still down over 70%; reflecting fewer Atlantic crossings.
In Europe, business flight activity still trailed last year: 48% down on the first half of June 2019. But there are big differences among countries, with business aviation flights from Germany down by only 26% and France down by 50%. Business flight activity in Spain and the UK were down by 70% – with the UK’s recovery setback by quarantine restrictions imposed on June 8th.
‘Cancellation key VIP events’
“In Europe the recovery is strongest is in domestic markets, with flight volume within Germany almost up to normal levels for June,” said Koe. “The usual leisure activity peaks in Europe have been stunted by the cancellation of key VIP events and the complications of cross-border travel. As intra-European borders are lifted from mid-month, we expect to see stronger regional recovery.”
Business aviation activity in Asia was down 30% in the first half of June. China recovered to 88% of normal activity and flights in India fell by only 7% compared with the same period of 2019. The key markets in the Middle East are recovering only gradually, with flights in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates still down at least by half. See table for more details.
The busiest aircraft types remained the PC-12 and Cessna Caravan, with both flying about 25% less than usual. The most active jets are the Citation Excel XLS, Phenom 300, and Challenger 300 – flying 33% below normal levels. The busiest large jet, the Challenger 600, recorded flights 44% below normal levels. Hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis remains the large cabin fleet, with ultra-long-range jets achieving 50% less than normal activity. Very light and entry level jets are flying close to 80% of normal activity.
Meanwhile, scheduled flight activity has shown less resilience. Flights in the first half of June were nearly 80% down on the same period last year.
Business flight activity June 1st to 16th – at a glance
Richard Koe, WINGX MD and co-founder.