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Air Charter Service

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Politics and economics make prediction difficult for business aviation
Overall, Air Charter Service thinks that flight levels will remain relatively flat. Any slight increase initially is likely to be offset by a decline as the uncertainty of elections potentially put decisions on long term projects on hold.
Air Charter Service group private jet director Andy Christie.
Read this story in our April 2024 printed issue.

Air Charter Service group private jet director Andy Christie gives an insight into the coming year and what it holds for the private charter industry.
“The biggest thing that may affect the market this year is that more than half the world’s population will be heading for the polls over the next 12 months,” he says. “This will mean politicians trying to boost economies in the run up to elections, coupled with uncertainty around long term projects pending the results of the polls. The US economy in Q4 will certainly be affected by the 5th November Presidential election.
“A major concern this year is the increasing volatility in the Middle East, despite the surge in entertainment, being driven by Saudi Arabia. The fragile nature of the current environment and potential effect on oil prices could derail the economic outlook, which would have a far wider reach than just the local markets.
“Obviously there will be regional variations. In Asia I expect the Chinese private jet market to continue thriving after it really picked up again last year. Long-range flights to Europe and the US became more popular, and we expect this market to remain strong, as long as the geopolitical landscape remains stable. The southern hemisphere markets of South America, Africa and Australasia made a quicker recovery post-COVID than some economies and will likely continue to develop in the year ahead. 
“The US market shrank by around four per cent last year, but is still more than 20 per cent up on pre-pandemic figures. In 2023 European flights saw an eight per cent decrease compared to 2022, but that number is still seven per cent ahead of pre-pandemic levels. We think that private jet levels will remain similar this year, staying ahead of 2019 numbers.
“A potentially strong summer may be limited by pilot shortages, as well as a lack of parts, both of which are still an issue for airlines, including the larger charter companies in the major aviation hubs, which could further impact the number of airlines and aircraft available on the market. We don’t think capacity should be too much of a limiting factor for the rest of the year. However, should it be, it may present an opportunity for us, as we would expect to be approached to source replacement capacity from the global market.
“There are so many economic and political factors likely to affect 2024 that it is very difficult to make firm predictions. Overall, we think that flight levels will remain relatively flat, year-on-year, potentially with a slight increase in the first half of the year, but this is likely to be offset by a decline in the second half as the uncertainty of elections potentially putting the decisions on long-term projects on hold.”

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