August winds up a record summer season for business aviation

WINGXТs weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Overall Comment

August has delivered the predicted record rebound in business aviation demand. The even-slower than expected recovery in commercial airline operations will emphasize the advantages of flying on-demand. There are still some constraints in terms of travel restrictions and virus variants, but the harder limit on business aviation activity in the short term may be the lack of available aircraft.

Global

Business jet activity so far this year is still on course to eclipse the global flight activity recorded in 2019, which was the year when the market finally surpassed record activity levels back in 2008. Business jets have flown just under 2.9 million sectors in 2021 through August, 3% more than in the same period 2019, up by 70% compared to last year. The upwards trend has slackened a little during August as concerns around the delta variant persist. The cargo “boom” continues, last year’s resilience now surpassed, moving 7% beyond the cargo traffic sectors flown in 2019. These robust trends in business aviation and cargo operations stand in contrast to scheduled airline movements, which have for several weeks been treading water at around 40% below comparative 2019 trends.

Global Business Jet flight activity in Jan 1st – August 24th, 2021

Europe

European business jet travel is up by over 25% so far this month, compared to pre-pandemic August 2019. Even the UK, with 4,741 business jet departures so far this month, is almost 10% busier than in August 2019. Top markets France, Germany, Spain, have all seen records broken by more than 20%. Business jet arrivals into Greece are up 28%, which is surprisingly lower than the year-to-date trend of 33% additional arrivals vs 2019. Spain, Russia, and Turkey are amongst the other countries which have accumulated more business jet activity this year than 2019. The stand-out markets this month are Belgium and Switzerland, with jet movements up 40%, and Croatia, activity up almost 70%. Business jet connections between Switzerland and the UAE are up five-fold this month.

Business jet and Scheduled airline connections from Zurich, Switzerland

North America

Concerns around the delta virus variant appear to be holding back the record rebound in business aviation this summer in North America. Flight activity is up by 16% through 24th August, having been 20% ahead in the first half of the month. Year to date activity is running 3% ahead of 2019 in terms of business jet sectors, although turboprop flying is down 10% this year vs pre-pandemic, which takes the overall business aviation activity trend down to 1% below 2019 year-to-date. This August, the emphasis is on larger and longer-range aircraft, with Challenger 600 activity up 15% in sectors, 20% In flight hours. Florida still has a very strong growth rate, business jet departures up by 34% this month. Flights to Arizona and Nevada are up 30%. The busiest airport connection is Van Nuys-Las Vegas, with business jet flights between these 2 airports up by 48% compared to August 2019.

Rest of World

Outside the US and Europe, the busiest market is Canada, with stronger summer activity creeping back towards 2019 levels. Mexico, in contrast, is still seeing only 70% of the business jet activity in August two years ago. Across all other global regions, the August trend is showing 28% more flights than in August 2019, although only 8% increase in flight hours. Japan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia are three of the only markets across these regions not to see a catch up on pre-pandemic flying. Countries such as Brazil, China, Nigeria, South Africa, notwithstanding their differing experiences of the pandemic, are seeing stronger business jet activity this year than ever before. The busiest international connection is Russia and UAE, more than two times the volumes back in 2019. The cities with the largest volumes of business jet arrivals this year are Sao Paolo, Dubai, and Abuja.