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Jet demand weathers second lockdown ahead of Thanksgiving
Charter activity is holding up quite well in Europe, with sectors trending down by 17 per cent, hours by 10 per cent, compared to private and corporate flight departments, whose activity is trailing more than 25 per cent.

Global business aviation activity is trending down by 19 per cent this November compared to last November, which is slightly weaker than the October YOY trend. This month's trend, as indicated by WingX's weekly Global Market Tracker, is in line with the overall decline in the last six months.

Business aviation is still holding up much better than scheduled airlines, where activity is down by 62 per cent YOY for the same period. Private jet and turboprop activity actually picked up in the last 10 days, with a rolling seven-day average close to regaining the post-pandemic peak from mid-October. North America has slightly weaker trends than Europe, with a 22 per cent decline versus 18 per cent, but the regions are converging as the US market picks up and European activity flags. Asia-Pacific is the next busiest region at just 10 per cent off normal in business aviation sectors this month but 30 per cent below in terms of flight hours.

In the US, the dip in activity during the presidential elections and immediate aftermath has made way for a stronger recovery. Charter operators are providing the ballast, with flight hours just three per cent below the comparative 2019 period. Fractional operations are substantially recovered from the summer, with flights within 15 per cent of the YOY trend for November, but private and corporate flight departments are still lagging almost 30 per cent below par. Trends in terms of aircraft segment correlate to size, with the smaller jets flying more: very light and entry level jets are 10 per cent off, midsize and super-mid jets are flying 15 per cent below, while heavy and ultra-long range jet activity is almost 30 per cent down on last year. Aircraft types with activity above 90 per cent of normal include the Citation Latitude, Nextant and Phenom 300.

In terms of international connections from the US, Mexico is the primary destination, with flights down only three per cent this month. In contrast, flights from the US to Canada are down by 54 per cent. Bahamas traffic is also heavily depressed, at 28 per cent below normal for November. But flights to Puerto Rico are up 40 per cent, and several Caribbean destinations have seen big growth, notably Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten. Further afield, transatlantic flying is still in the trough, with connections down by 75 per cent. Within the US, Florida is the busiest state this month, with flight sectors down by only two per cent YOY. The only US state with growth compared to last year is Arizona, where arrivals are up by one per cent. Big markets such as Texas and California have seen recoveries stagnate at around 15 per cent below, and the metropolitan East Coast remains most affected, with New Jersey's flight activity still 50 per cent adrift.

In Europe, November has seen a steady decline in business aviation flight activity, unsurprisingly reflecting the escalation in travel restrictions across the region. Rolling seven-day average daily activity has slumped 30 per cent in the last three weeks, with some countries seeing their largest declines since the spring. Notably flight activity out of the UK is down by 43 per cent. Out of Luton, formerly the busiest business aviation hub in the UK, outbound flights are down by almost 60 per cent. Flight activity in Germany has also been significantly constrained by lockdown 2.0, with sectors down by 33 per cent this month. Spain is less affected, with flights down by nine per cent, and activity is close to normal in Sweden and Portugal. The outliers are Russia, Turkey and Greece, all of which are seeing more flight activity this November than last year.

Charter activity is holding up better in Europe, with sectors trending down by 17 per cent, hours by 10 per cent, compared to private and corporate flight departments whose activity is trailing more than 25 per cent. Several countries have seen strong gains in charter activity this month, including Russia, Turkey, Portugal, Czech Republic and Cyprus. The busiest city connections, all growing YOY, are from Moscow to Dubai, Belgrade, Larnaca and Nice. Charter flights between Berlin and Munich are well up. Barcelona and Madrid still ranks as one the most popular charter connections but activity is down 50 per cent. The busiest charter aircraft in Europe is the Citation Mustang, with over 600 flights this month, only three per cent off last year. Notably, the Embraer Legacy 600/650 platform has flown three per cent more in November YOY.

Richard Koe, WingX MD, comments: “Business aviation activity has picked up a little this week, mainly in the US, post-election, with Florida very much the regional hub. In Europe the trends are downwards, with the UK and Germany particularly affected, although Turkey and Russia are seeing record levels of activity. Next week we could see positive effects from the lightening of restrictions in Europe and some boost from Thanksgiving travel in the US.”

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