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Business aviation recovery is swifter than commercial
Business aviation demand appears to be most robust in Australia and Sweden, with jets and props operating 20 per cent below 2019. Germany is the busiest country in Europe, with flights 44 per cent below usual.

According to WingX's weekly Global Market Tracker, global business aviation activity is trailing by 51 per cent when comparing May and the first few days of June 2020 with the same period last year. North America is the most robust region, with activity over the period recovering to 49 per cent of normal levels, having been down by three quarters in April. Starting May with a rolling seven-day average of 3,800 daily sectors, North America ended the month at around 6,200, an improvement of 63 per cent. In the US, sectors flown in the last seven days – a period that includes Memorial Day demand – are down only three per cent compared to the same dates in 2019.

After North America, the bulk of business aviation activity has operated out of Europe, with trends still just over 60 per cent below normal. Of the other regions, Oceania has recovered by most, with traffic only 25 per cent below normal, and South America is now running 27 per cent below par. In Asia flight activity since the start of May is down by just over 50 per cent year on year, although it has more than doubled in the last week. At the start of the May, only half the normally active worldwide fleet was operational, and by the end of the month fleet employment was down only 20 per cent on normal.

By country, business aviation demand appears to be most robust in Australia and Sweden, with jets and props operating 20 per cent below comparative periods in 2019. Germany is the busiest country in Europe, with flights 44 per cent below usual. Sectors flown within Germany are only 20 per cent fewer than normal. Flight activity in Russia and France is down 53 per cent and 63 per cent respectively. The countries seeing the largest negative impacts are still the UK, Spain and Italy, with flight activity reduced by 70 per cent and more.

The busiest airports since 1 May have been in Florida, Texas and Arizona, with West Palm Beach at the top with flights trending down by 20 per cent, then Dallas Love Field and then Scottsdale airport. Florida's Naples airport, ranked fourth by business aviation departures, has actually seen some growth in May 2020 compared to May 2019. Flight activity from Teterboro is still languishing 80 per cent below pre-crisis levels. In Europe, Le Bourget, Geneva and Zurich are the busiest, then Biggin Hill. Elsewhere, Vnukovo has been the busiest business jet hub, and Brisbane busiest for turboprop traffic.

The trend in traffic by business jet segment continues to show more resilience in small cabin than in larger jets. For example, ‘Bizliner’ movements are down by almost 80 per cent, with ultra long range and heavy jet flights still well under 60 per cent of usual activity. The midsize segment, from super mid to super light, is flying around half its normal levels. The best performing segments are very light and entry level jets, and turboprops. The PC-12 and King Air 200 have operated 20 per cent of all business aviation flights during May, with comparable year on year activity down some 35 per cent. Cirrus SF50 jet activity is actually slightly up in this period.

Richard Koe, WingX managing director, comments: “The key US market appears to be entering a faster recovery phase, with holiday travel in the last week seeing close to normal activity for the end of May. Aircraft management companies have the strongest overall trend, although some charter operators have almost regained usual levels. Europe is still lagging, with business aviation traffic down by 60 per cent, though still much better than scheduled airlines, whose sectors are more than 80 per cent lower. Coming into the summer, we expect to see faster recovery, although countries with quarantines in place will obviously miss out.”

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