EBAA: UK business aviation takes biggest hit in Europe


Business aviation activity in the UK has taken the biggest dip compared with all major European countries, down 37% on 2019 levels. The findings published in a report A deeper look: Covid-19 impact on Business aviation by country by the EBAA showed Italy in a close second with 35% drop in business aviation operations in the first eight months of the year.

Spain, Portugal and France were all down 33% on 2019, which the EBBA said, represented the European average. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all witnessed a 31% drop whilst Switzerland and Scandinavia saw drops in activity of 27%.

Least effected were Germany and Austria which saw drops in operations of 25% and 26% respectively. The EBAA reported that German activity stabilised at around 70% down on 2019 levels, but recovery had been ahead of the continental curve — possibly due to swift action taken by German authorities at the onset of the pandemic suggested the EBAA.

Arthur Thomas, the report’s author and Market & Business Intelligence Senior Manager, EBAA, told Corporate Jet Investor that the data reflects that business aviation is a niche market.

“Right now, if you want to travel by air, airlines do not seem to be an option for a lot of people. Business aviation seems to accommodate those people who absolutely have to travel. It includes the ‘returning user’ and a batch of ‘first time users’. Although the industry did not predict such a phenomenon to happen, there is no real surprise to see business aviation being used in a way that precisely fits its reason to be,” said Thomas.

Business aviation is quite an accurate proxy for the performance of the general economy said Thomas. Any phenomenon impacting the economy has an almost immediate and similar effect on business aviation activity. On top of that, the industry’s demand elasticity reacts strongly to those economic changes. Quicker fall, quicker recovery.

Thomas added: “Obviously I have to mention the general caveat with any prediction. The Covid-19 crisis is very unique which means any prediction remains what it is: a prediction.

“The real question is less on the need for business aviation (which should not disappear, and which could even thrive if people do not want to travel with a lot of people) than the ability of this industry to go through several months of bad financial results. As it is the case in the airlines industry, an airplane that is not flying poses high costs without a possible revenue to back this up. So the higher risk is on the ability of all the small and medium enterprises to simply survive economically.”

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