Business aviation flight hours rose 87.5 per cent between Q2 and Q3 as flying resumed following the dramatic declines related to COVID-19, finds Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), in its quarterly Business Aviation Index.
The index reports on the global flight activity and utilisation for more than 2,000 business aircraft enrolled on JSSI hourly cost maintenance programmes, including jets, turboprops and helicopters. Since average flight hours reached all-time lows in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business aviation activity has recovered to 78.4 per cent of 2019 levels.
As some of the pent-up travel demand was released, month-over-month flight activity between August and September 2020 climbed 7.1 per cent, the first monthly increase in flying hours since Q3 2019.
“While this quarter reflects a welcome sign for business aviation, utilisation is still down 21.6 per cent year-over-year. I think we will see elevated leisure travel during the winter months, as tighter travel restrictions coupled with the virus resurgence will continue to inhibit business-related flight hours,” says Neil Book, president and CEO of JSSI.
JSSI's data also reveals that several industries initially hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, such as business services and financial services, demonstrated the most significant recoveries in Q3, recording 84.3 per cent and 111.4 per cent increases in flying hours respectively, quarter-over-quarter.
Large aircraft have taken the biggest plunge globally, with year-over-year flight hours down 30.7 per cent. In comparison, small-cabin aircraft saw the least pronounced decrease in activity, down just 2.1 per cent from 2019 levels, reflecting their value during the pandemic, with new customers turning to business aviation to meet their travel demands.
“Since Q2, when the global impact of COVID-19 became clear and we saw record-breaking cuts to commercial flights, we have witnessed a staggered increase in flight hours, with North America outpacing other regions. During Q3, all geographies experienced an increase in business aviation flight hours, but the most acute rise was seen across Central and South America, with utilisation up more than 169 per cent and 146 per cent quarter-over-quarter as travel restrictions began to ease.”
JSSI's utilisation data provides early indicators and useful insights into the state of global economic conditions, which is particularly relevant given the continuing COVID-19 situation. The full JSSI Business Aviation Index can be downloaded by visiting the JSSI website.