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Super Bowl and earthquake catalyse increased activity
It has been a mixed start to the year for business aviation, which shows signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels. The earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria has led to high levels of medical business jet activity.

Business jet sectors in week six of 2023 (6 February through to the 12th) amounted to 67,178 sectors. This represents an 11 per cent increase compared to week five of 2023, a three per cent decrease compared to week six in 2022 and a 34 per cent increase compared with week six of 2021, and is 20 per cent ahead of week six in 2019. The global trend in the last four weeks is one per cent ahead of a comparative 2022, according to WingX's weekly Global Market Tracker. For commercially certified business jet traffic, including Part 135 and Part 91K, the week six trend was down nine per cent compared to the same dates in 2022. Business jet and turboprop activity in the first 13 days of February is one per cent ahead of the same 13-day period last year and 13 per cent above 2019. Between 1 and 13 February, scheduled airline traffic was up 27 per cent compared to February 2022 but 16 per cent below 2019 levels.

In North America, 52,133 business jet sectors were flown in week six, a 10 per cent increase compared to week five and a six per cent decrease compared to the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks activity has dipped one per cent behind last year.

93,500 business jet sectors have flown out of airports in North America in February 2023 so far, which is one per cent below the same 13-day period in February 2022 and 12 per cent more than 2019. So far this month private flight departments and fractional sectors are up seven per cent and 14 per cent compared to last year respectively and are 17 per cent and 36 per cent above 2019. Corporate flight departments are flying five per cent less than in February 2019. Branded charter sectors are down 17 per cent compared to February last year, although they are 13 per cent above 2019.

Super Bowl LVII was held in Glendale, Arizona last weekend on Sunday 12th February, and nearby airports less than 30 miles from the event (KGEU, KLUF, KGYR, KDVT and KPHX) saw an influx of business jet arrivals over the event weekend. 228 business jets were parked at nearby airports 2.5 hours prior to kick-off, decreasing to 67 parked business jets 19.5 hours after kick-off. This year's event was the fourth busiest in the last five years for business jet arrivals during the event weekend, with arrivals to event airports down 25 per cent compared to the 2022 event in Los Angeles. The 2020 Super Bowl in Miami has the record number of arrivals into nearby airports during the event weekend.

In Europe 9,690 business jet sectors were flown in week six, a 19 per cent increase compared to week five but a four per cent decrease compared to the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks activity has dipped five per cent behind last year. In the opening 13 days of February 2023, business jet activity is trailing last year by eight per cent, although it is 10 per cent above 2019. Germany and Spain are the weakest markets compared to last year. Excluding Russia, activity in Europe is 5% below last year but 13 per cent ahead of 2019. Year-to-date business jet sectors from Russia are down 70 per cent compared to a comparable 2022 and down 62 per cent versus a comparable 2019.

Activity in Turkey is almost double compared to the same 13-day period in February 2022. Following the Turkey/Syria earthquake earlier this month, business jets have been assisting with humanitarian efforts. Ambulance and medical operators are flying 188 per cent more sectors this month compared to last year, while government and military operators are up 415 per cent compared to last year.

In week six, activity in Africa was 17 per cent ahead of the same dates last year, Asia was 31 per cent higher and the Middle East up 56 per cent while South America was 35 per cent ahead. The rest of the world countries with the largest gains over pre-covid February 2019 are Brazil, India and Australia. Year-to-date business jet sectors in China are 25 per cent above a comparable last year and four per cent above a comparable 2019. The busiest airport for business jet departures so far this year in China is Beijing (ZBAA), with 229 outbound flights up 19 per cent compared to last year.

WingX MD Richard Koe comments: “Global business jet activity is flat this February compared to February last year, which maintains a healthy 12 per cent gain over February 2019. Charter is the relative weak spot, coming off huge highs in the last 12 months. The earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria has catalysed very high levels of medical and ambulance specialist business jet activity, representing more than 20 per cent of total activity out of Turkey this month.”

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