North American private jet aviation steps into spring


April 2020 was “the cruellest month,” for private jet travel, we said last May. With good reason. As Covid-19 rampaged around the world, aviation insights company WINGX reported a 70% fall in global business activity during the month. Data from TRAQPak, Argus reported a 71.5% fall in North American business flight activity in April 2020 compared with the same month of 2019. One year on, the prospects for April 2021 look distinctly sunnier.

Taking the temperature of global flight movements this week, WINGX’s weekly Global Market Tracker reveals activity is 11% up on last year so far this month and within 10% of 2019 levels. All regions are ahead of the flight activity recorded in March 2020 – except in Europe, where new lockdowns and travel restrictions continue to curb business jet activity.

The brightest star in business aviation remains the US market. Last week the rolling seven-day average activity, plotted by WINGX, returned to its pre-pandemic pace. There were 6,437 sectors flown on March 17th, compared with 6,326 on the same day in March 2020 and 6,815 in March 2019. Flight activity, month-to-date, is up by 17% compared with last year.

Resilient for charter demand

Dissecting the key trends for the US market shows a big rebound in fractional operations, which climbed 21% from last year’s trough. Private owner and corporate flight department traffic is 15% up compared with March 2020. Despite last March proving resilient for charter demand, so far charters are up by 14% year-on-year.

Both big and small jets are enjoying some of the most marked increases in activity in the US market. Super-mid and midsize jets are flying 20% more than in March 2020. Very light jet sectors are up nearly one third (31%) year-on-year.

And when it comes to destinations, the Sunshine State of Florida remains the most popular since the pandemic began, easily outsizing pre-pandemic favourites California and Texas. Sunseekers have taken business jet and prop activity in Florida 19% above the highpoint of March last year, which was itself higher than any day in March 2019.

Outsizing pre-pandemic favourites

Demand for charters in Florida this March crested at 360 daily sectors, compared with a summit of 304 in March 2020 and a high point of 246 in March 2019.

But it’s not all sunshine for the US business jet market. The grand total of overall flight activity in the US between January 1st to March 22nd 2021 is still down by more than 10% on the same period of 2019.And Private activity, covering individual and corporate flight departments, is still trailing by almost 20% compared to pre-Pandemic.

Nevertheless, there are, according to WINGX, some tantalising signs that in some US states business jet activity this year may exceed the levels achieved in 2019 – particularly in the charter market.

So, as March turns to April, in North America at least, it’s not just the weather that is warming up.

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Marvellous Miami: Florida has become the nation’s favourite destination since the Covid-19 pandemic.


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