International business jet connections growing fast, especially in Europe

WINGXТs weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.

Overall Comment

Business jet activity continues to beat records set pre-pandemic. Business jet utilisation for the leading charter and fractional operators is maxing out which explains the increasing restrictions on usage options which guarantee availability. More demand will ultimately feed through to more aircraft production but in the short-term operators and brokers are going to need to be innovative in sourcing existing lift to meet demand.

Global

The last week has seen further validation of the sustained growth in business jet demand from Summer to Autumn in North American and European markets; in these regions, jet sectors are up by 12% in the last ten days compared to the same dates in 2019. Air cargo traffic also continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels, trending up by 8%. Scheduled airline traffic is up 60% on last year but still not within 30% of 2019 levels. After 9 months of the year, 2.5 million business jet sectors have been operated, up by 2.2% compared to 2019. Global commercial airline traffic is still behind by 40%. Regionally, business jet flight trends in North America are up by a couple of points, Europe back on a level, traffic in Asia up by 9%, with much stronger trends but smaller volumes in Africa, South America.

Global fixed wing flight activity: Passenger, Cargo, Business Aviation Sep-Oct 2021 vs 2019

Europe

As the pandemic recedes globally, numerous countries are progressively softening travel restrictions, particularly on international traffic, and this is showing up in business jet connections immediately, though not yet convincingly on the airline schedules. For example, in the last 10 days compared to the same period in 2019, business jet departures from the UK to France are up 8%, flights from UK to Switzerland and Italy are up 41%, flights to Greece are up 45%, flights to Portugal are up 176%. Overall the last ten days has seen an 80% increase vs last year in outbound business jet flights from UK to EU countries, up by 7% compared to 2019, with flight hours up by 14%, indicating a stronger relative increase in sectors to Eastern Europe. Comparably, scheduled airline flight from the UK to EU-27 are down 51% in the last two weeks versus 2019.

The UK is not the only country in Europe to see strong demand in business jet flights. Overall, the EU countries are boasting a 24% increase in business jet sectors in the last ten days. Ireland, Finland, and Bulgaria are the only countries without any growth versus 2019. Busiest markets France and Germany are up 20% compared to 2019, Spain up 25%, Italy close to 40% gains. France-Italy, Spain-France, Germany-Spain, Italy-Switzerland are all showing big gains on pre-pandemic activity for the end of September. As an example, business jet departures from Italy to Germany are up 34% in the last 10 days compared to 2 years ago. The biggest increase is in Branded Charter operations, flight hours up by 42% versus end-September 2019. Light jets such as the CJI, CJ2 and Mustang are most in demand on this country pair.

Business jet flights from Italy to Germany end-Sep through start-Oct 2021

North America

Business jet traffic in the US is accelerating into what is normally the busiest month of the calendar year. Sectors flown in the last 10 days are up 15% compared to same period in 2019. Charter operations are up by 26% compared to pre-pandemic. Domestic charters within the US are up by 33% compared to end of September 2019. Charter connections to Canada are still down by 45% compared to two years ago but they’re bouncing back with Mexico. The Nextant is one of the busiest jets in the US, with double the flight hours versus two years ago. Midsize jet charter activity is up by 46% in the last two weeks versus two years ago. Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and Colorado are seeing growth rates in the charter market of close to 50%. Miami-Opa, Van Nuys, Los Angeles are the busiest airports. Charter flights from Van Nuys to Teterboro are up 102% in the last 10 days, versus same dates 2019.

Rest of World

In Asia, there has been a recovery from slowing traffic during August and September, although East and South-East Asia are still trending down on 2019 in terms of business jet traffic, -7% in flights, -35% in hours operated. Domestic business jet flights are up 90% compared to 2019, but international sectors are down by 70%. The busiest connections are between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand-Cambodia is the regional country connection with the most growth so far this year, up 150%. In contrast, flights between China and the US are down 77% this year. Elsewhere, the Middle East is seeing a lot of growth, 23% more business jet sectors than two years ago, with the UAE, in both domestic and international traffic– with Russia, India, Turkey Ц breaking historical records.

Arrival airports for outbound busiest jet departures from UAE so far in 2021 vs 2020.