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MEBAA (Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association)
MEBAA (Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association)
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Data indicates that Europe is finally pulling its socks up
There have been 38,000 business aviation flights in Europe in April 2021, 25,000 more than in April last year. On a year-to-date basis, the European region is now eight per cent ahead of last year in terms of traffic.

Global fixed wing flight activity is up 227 per cent in April 2021 compared to April 2020, with business jet activity up by more than three times, scheduled airline sectors doubling and cargo activity up 15 per cent year on year.

So far this year, all sector worldwide flight activity is trailing 17 per cent compared to 2020, due to the still significant declines in scheduled airline flights, and is 25 per cent behind the same period in 2020. In contrast, business aviation activity is 25 per cent up year-to-date. For this period, according to data from WingX, business aviation traffic is up 25 per cent in the core North American market and up 30 per cent, 40 per cent and 65 per cent in Africa, Asia and South America respectively. Europe has also finally broached its 2020 thresholds, with regional business aviation activity now trending up eight per cent.

Demand for business aviation in the US continues to recover this month. The rolling daily average activity on 27 April 2021 was 8,535 sectors, well over double the 2,991 daily flights trending on 28 April last year, but still some way below the 9,273 flights operated on 30 April 2019. For the month, US business aviation flight activity is now down by five per cent compared to April 2019, and for the year to date, the deficit is nine per cent compared to 2019. Branded charter operations are record-breaking, with 32 per cent more sectors flown this year compared to last and three per cent more sectors than in April 2019. The peak rolling seven-day average this month was 1,680 charter flights, compared to a peak of 1,161 daily charters in 2020, with 1,617 daily charters the high point during 2019.

96 per cent of business aviation sectors in the US this year have been domestic trips, with the most popular international connections being to Mexico; these flights were up 95 per cent this year compared to last year. Flights from the US to the Turks and Caicos Islands are double where they were last year and 96 per cent up versus April 2019, up 32 per cent on January to April 2019. 17 per cent of all US business aviation departures this year are originating in Florida, with this activity up by over half compared to last year. South Carolina has a similar growth rate this year. Other states with more than 30 per cent growth this year include Texas, Colorado and Georgia, as well as New York. Growth in traffic from California is double-digit, and even Washington DC and New Jersey have eked out a few points of growth this year.

There have been 38,000 business aviation flights in Europe in April 2021, 25,000 more than in April last year. On a year-to-date basis, the European region is now eight per cent ahead of last year in terms of traffic. Austria, Switzerland and Netherlands are still modestly behind last year's trends, and the UK is still trailing by 35 per cent. Business jet and prop departures in France are trending up 12 per cent this year, with 26 per cent gains in Spain, 34 per cent growth in Italy, a 42 per cent increase in activity in Russia and a 70 per cent YTD increase in Turkey. Private flight activity is up by most, with 25 per cent more sectors this year compared to last year. International flow is still the weakest, with the busiest connection between France and Switzerland, still nine per cent down on last year. The weakest trend is for flights between the UK and the EU, with the G-registered AOC fleet flying 42 per cent less than last year and 67 per cent less than back in 2019.

Outside the US and Europe, Canada is the busiest market for business aviation traffic, with trends creeping five per cent up on 2020, but still more than 40 per cent adrift for connections with the US. Mexico has gained 15 per cent on 2020 trends through April, but that is still 40 per cent down on comparative 2019 activity. Business jet traffic in China has doubled this year compared to last year, with all the impetus coming in domestic flying; international flights are down 90 per cent compared to trends in the previous two years. As the virus surges and lockdowns are intensified in India, business aviation activity is still quite robust, down in the last few days but up 43 per cent compared to last year. Business jet flights from the UAE have doubled this year compared to last year, with most growth in connections with Russia, Turkey and to the Maldives.

WingX MD Richard Koe comments: “The key US business aviation market has turned the corner, well ahead of last year and with less than 10 per cent shortfall versus 2019 and with the momentum to surpass those levels in the second half of the year. For Europe, the question mark is the extent to which travel restrictions get lifted before the summer, given the market's dependence on leisure demand making up for an expected long-term drop in corporate travel.”

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