JSSI: Flight hours bounce back 87.5% in Q3


Business jet airplane on the ground. Early morning.

Business aviation flight hours rose 87.5% between second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) as flying resumed following deep declines due to Covid-19, reports Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), in its quarterly Business Aviation Index.

“While this quarter [Q3] reflects a welcome sign for business aviation, utilisation is still down 21.6% year-over-year,” said Neil Book, President and CEO of JSSI. “I think we will see elevated leisure travel during the winter months, as tighter travel restrictions coupled with the virus resurgence will continue to inhibit business-related flight hours.”

The index reports on the global flight activity of more than 2,000 business aircraft on JSSI maintenance programmes. Since average flight hours reached all-time lows in April, due to the global pandemic, business aviation activity has recovered to 78.4% of 2019 levels. The index also indicated the first monthly increase in activity since Q3 2019 as month-over-month flight activity between August and September 2020 climbed 7.1% thanks to pent-up demand post-lockdown.

Large aircraft have taken the biggest plunge globally, with year-over-year flight hours down 30.7%, as long-haul flights have grown increasingly difficult to operate due to travel restrictions. In comparison, small-cabin aircraft saw the smallest decrease in activity, down just 2.1% from 2019 levels, as first time users and domestic flights made up much of the activity.

Book said: “Since Q2, when the global impact of Covid-19 became clear and we saw record-breaking cuts to commercial flights, we have witnessed a staggered increase in flight hours, with North America outpacing other regions. During Q3, all geographies experienced an increase in business aviation flight hours, but the most acute rise was seen across Central and South America, with utilisation up more than 169% and 146% quarter-over-quarter as travel restrictions began to ease.”