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WingX highlights limited recovery for leisure markets
The coming of a second wave of coronavirus in some parts of the world has halted business ops. Outside the US and Europe, the most stable region continues to be Oceania, while Qatar leads the way in the Middle East.

According to WingX's weekly Global Market Tracker, global business aviation activity over the last 30 days to 11 August has trailed last year by 17 per cent, with Europe being the most resilient region, its flights down by only five per cent. In the first 10 days of August, the overall picture has not changed much but European business aviation activity has significantly brightened, showing a 0.1 per cent increase in sectors flown compared to August 2019. The deadweight has been the US market, where the recovery stalled in early July. Only in the last few days has some momentum returned, regaining the seven-day rolling average activity from the end of June. Since then, the US has seen a YOY deficit of just over 75,000 business aviation flights.

There has been very strong pent-up demand for business aviation flights in several countries in Europe, most notably Croatia, where activity is up 50 per cent YOY; Czech Republic seeing 30 per cent more flights versus August 2019; flights from Russia up by 26 per cent; between 15 and 20 per cent YOY growth in flights in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands; and the busiest market France getting five per cent more flights YOY. The UK is still down by five per cent this month, but that marks a big improvement from the 30 per cent decline in UK activity during July. Only Spain has gone backwards; the country had seen a significant bounce in July and was actually ahead YOY, but the trend in August has receded to a 10% decline YOY. Worst off in August is Italy, with business aviation flights still trailing by 20 per cent YOY.

Ninety-seven percent of the business aviation flights flown in Europe so far in August have had destinations within Europe. Transatlantic connections this month are down by 60 per cent. The biggest intra-regional gains have come from flights within France, with 1,558 in the first 11 days of the month, an increase of 25 per cent YOY. The busiest connection is from Paris to the south of France, with flights from Le Bourget to Nice up by 12 per cent, and from Le Bourget to Cannes experiencing an 85 per cent YOY increase. Getaway holiday destinations in Corsica and Brest in Brittany have hit record numbers. In neighbouring Germany, domestic activity is also well up YOY. Munich is the busiest German airport, with eight per cent growth in flights, then Schoenefeld, with activity up 20 per cent. Sylt is the most popular domestic getaway, with arrivals up almost 50 per cent.

In the US, the slowdown in June's precipitous recovery in business aviation activity is a result of a second lockdown, especially in the country's primary user regions in California, Texas and Florida. Florida, the busiest US state through early summer and the quickest to regain and then surpass 2019 traffic, is now trailing YOY activity by eight per cent. California and Texas have seen some recovery in flight operations, but are still down 17 per cent YOY so far in August. Of the other busiest states, Colorado is one of the bright spots, with arrivals up seven per cent this month, and notably flight hours up 14 per cent, attracting visitors from across the country. Business aviation flights out of New York State are still down almost 40 per cent YOY.

There is significant variation across US airports, with Dallas Love Field the busiest in August, with flights up by 12 per cent compared to last year. Denver Centennial is popular, with arrivals up seven per cent, and Aspen continues to draw a big crowd, with business aviation visitors up by 26 per cent. National Park destinations such as Eagle County airport have seen much more traffic than normal. Van Nuys has remained pretty buoyant, with activity down three per cent this month. The big losers are the East Coast airports, especially those reliant on corporate travel and international connections; Westchester is trailing YOY activity by 34 per cent, and Teterboro's business aviation departures are down 57 per cent so far this month, little changed from June and July. Similarly, metropolitan traffic to and from Washington Dulles, Atlanta and Las Vegas is still well below normal.

Outside the US and Europe, the most stable region continues to be Oceania, with mostly domestic flying in Australia slightly up YOY, although New Zealand's business aviation is almost 20 per cent below normal levels. Flight activity in Brazil and Colombia is holding up despite the spread of the pandemic. Mexico is amongst the worst affected, with business aviation activity at only 50 per cent of normal. Africa likewise has shown little recovery in the last three months and is still down by a third in August. In the Middle East there is a significant contrast between strong YOY growth out of Qatar, and a deficit of almost 40 per cent in sectors flown from and within Saudi Arabia. The Asia-Pacific region has shown some recovery; its aggregate trend is 12 per cent below, with China's activity well recovered this month, up 10 per cent versus the same period in August 2019.

Richard Koe, WingX MD, comments: “Business aviation activity has so far weathered concerns in Europe about a second wave, but not in the US. The overall result is that activity is bobbing around at 80% of normal, which is still a lot better than scheduled airlines, which are operating at around 50% of normal levels for August. What we have seen so far is a limited recovery in the leisure market, distinguished by demand for lighter aircraft, domestic flights and the popularity of remote rural and island destinations. The corporate demand is still largely parked. As the scale of the economic recovery materialises, we will see how that demand is affected as we move towards the end of the summer.”

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