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Recovery in flight numbers continues worldwide
Europe is at 77 per cent of normal business aviation activity, the US is at 85 per cent, Oceania and South America are on 93 per cent, Asia is 27 per cent below normal, and Africa is 31 per cent below par.

According to WingX's Global Market Tracker, the US Independence Day holiday period showed that recovery in business aviation is continuing apace in the United States, despite the continuing virus contagion and the resumption of travel restrictions in several states. Comparing activity between 1 and 5 July, traffic was only seven per cent down. Last year's Independence Day fell on a Thursday, whereas this year it was on a Saturday, so comparing the same Thursday through Sunday period, the drop was is only three per cent. If the comparison for those days is restricted just to business jets, the Thursday to Sunday activity in 2020 was actually four per cent up on the same days in 2019.

The last two weeks have seen US business jet and prop activity catch up to 85 per cent of normal levels for this period. California is now back to the busiest state position, with around 10,000 flight departures in the last two weeks, just eight per cent under par. Florida has sustained its YOY growth trends from June and is 12 per cent up on activity coming into July. Colorado, Montana and Arizona have all seen around five per cent growth in flights in the last fortnight through Independence Day. The east coast continues to suffer the biggest declines in activity, with flights out of New York state trailing 23 per cent and flights out of New Jersey still down by over 40 per cent in the last two weeks.

The global recovery in aircraft utilisation has also been encouraging in the last fortnight: Europe is back up to 77 per cent of normal activity, inverting its negative trend in April; Oceania and South America have stabilised at around 93 per cent of usual activity; Asia is stuck at 27 per cent below normal; and recovery in Africa has been fairly slow, with activity still trailing by 31 per cent. Aircraft management companies appear to be driving the recovery so far, with activity above 90 per cent of normal, whereas branded charter operators are yet to see pent-up demand released but have recovered 80 per cent of normal levels. Private and corporate flight departments are lagging, with activity down close to 30 per cent.

Outside North America, the busiest countries in the last two weeks are France and Germany, respectively down by 24 per cent and 10 per cent YOY. Australia is the fifth busiest market globally with prop activity included, with that country seeing a small increase in YOY flight hours operated. For business jets only, the UK and Greece are by far the hardest hit European market, with flights down more than 55 per cent. Spain and Italy have seen some recovery since border restrictions were lifted in mid-June. Business jet traffic from Switzerland is only down by 17 per cent, and from Turkey traffic is back up to 93 per cent. Most flights are still domestic, showing stronger trends here, with intra-Germany activity just three per cent below normal coming into July.

The emphasis on resilience in mid and small cabin aircraft has continued into July, with very light and entry level jet activity worldwide within 10 per cent of normal, super light and super midsize jet traffic down by 15 per cent in the last fortnight, heavy jet sectors down by 30 per cent and ultra long range jets flying almost 40 per cent fewer sectors and close to 50 per cent fewer hours. Turboprop recovery has stalled, with flying down by 20 per cent, but does retain the two busiest types, the PC-12 and King Air 200. The three busiest business jets are the Citation Excel, Bombardier 300 and Phenom 300, all flying at around 85 per cent of normal. In the global charter market, the busiest jet is the Challenger 300.

WingX MD Richard Koe says: “Whether it's despite the growing contagion concerns, or because of them, business aviation activity is continuing to be led by a recovery in the US, especially evident around Independence Day on 4 July. Leisure demand is clearly the driver at this point, with the holiday seeing lots of traffic to popular summer resorts. In Europe, charter requests are breaking records, and even if conversion is low, we expect to see the next month's charter activity reflect a fairly strong pipeline. The longer-term outlook depends on what happens to business travel.”

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