According to WINGX's weekly Global Market Tracker, business aviation activity is down by 58 per cent so far in May, compared to the same period last year.
This is an improvement on the 70 per cent decline during April and reflects consistent increase in seven-day average daily activity since mid-April, which is now trending at 5,900 flights per day worldwide. Resilience in business aviation contrasts with global scheduled airline activity, for which flights are trending down by 85 per cent in May and showing only slight signs of improvement since April. Global cargo activity is the most resilient sector, down by only 20 per cent in May.
The North American business aviation market is dominant, with 53,000 sectors operated in May, 58 per cent below normal, but representing 82 per cent of global activity. Asia has a similar trend with 61 per cent fewer flights but this is an improvement on the 70 per cent decline felt during April. Oceania is the most resilient region with flights down by 34 per cent in May. Flight activity in Europe is still stagnating at 66 per cent below normal. Trends in Africa are down by 54 per cent. All regions have seen some recovery in seven-day average daily activity this month. Across all regions, business aviation has increased its share of total fixed wing activity from around 20 per cent to 35 per cent.
At a country level, the most resilient markets for business aviation are Australia, Norway, Brazil, with flights down by around 30 per cent, and Sweden, with flights down by under 20 per cent. Worst affected countries are the UK, Italy and Spain, all seeing declines of at least 75 pre cent in business aviation operations. At the airport level, West Palm Beach is the busiest in the world so far in May, with 608 sectors, down by 48 per cent. Scottsdale is another resilient airport with flight activity down by 34 per cent. Outside the US, the main airports in Australia are modestly below normal. In Europe, Le Bourget remains the busiest airport but departures are down by 73 per cent. Biggin Hill is the busiest airport in the UK.
By aircraft segment, long-range large cabin jet activity continues to be the most subdued, with ultra long-range jets and heavy jets flying 75 per cent less than normal. Light jet segments are flying around 50 per cent of normal levels and turboprop flying is slightly more resilient. The busiest aircraft continue to be props including the King Air 200, PC-12 and Caravan. The busiest jets are Challenger 300 and Citation XLS platforms, with declines of at least 60 per cent. There is quite a bit of regional variation, with Hawker 700 and Challenger 600, the busiest aircraft in Africa this month, seeing some YOY growth in activity.
In terms of mission type, charter operations have not yet seen their much-anticipated recovery, with flights so far in May down by over 60 per cent. Fractional operations continue to be very subdued, almost 70 per cent reduced. Flights operated by private and corporate flight departments are down by close to 60 per cent. Aircraft management operators seem to be recovering faster with flight activity down by 50 per cent. Almost 70 per cent of the active managed fleet has been active this month. Recovery in aircraft management operators is most evident in the VLJ segment and recovering by most in Sweden, Turkey and Brazil.
Richard Koe comments: “Business aviation activity globally is still at least 50 per cent below normal, but the trend this month is stronger than last month, and steadily recovering in all regions, in contrast to still idle scheduled airline capacity. In business aviation, the green shoots are most obvious in the US, and still largely limited to light jet and turboprops. Unsurprisingly, the countries with looser virus suppression policies, such as Sweden and Brazil, have maintained some resilience in flight activity. The next phase of recovery will be the return of international traffic, which is still at very low levels.”