Bizjet demand in Europe stuttering, steadier elsewhere

WINGXs weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Summary

The steep declines in activity compared to 2022 have softened in late May, steadying the gains compared to pre-pandemic 2019. Europe appears to be the weak spot, with activity in Germany almost 20% down on last year, and busiest market France seeing only 2.5% increase on 2019, 2% decline compared to four years ago for domestic flights.

Global

There have been almost two million business jet and turboprop flights operated between January 1st and 21st May 2023, 4% fewer than during the same period 2022, 14% ahead of comparable 2019. So far this year, scheduled airline departures are 19% ahead of comparable last year, although still 14% below 2019. Focussing on the top 5 global airlines (Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Ryanair, United Airlines), activity is 14% ahead of comparable last year, 5% ahead of 2019.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flights, January 1st – May 21st 2023 compared to previous years. (Note business aviation includes turboprops)

North America

In Week 20, ending 21st May, business jet activity in North America grew 5% compared to the previous week, 5% fewer than in the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks the trend is 8% down compared to the same dates last year. Part-135 and 91K certified business jet flights were up 5% compared to week 19 and dipped 6% below the same dates in 2022. So far in May 2023, sectors in North America are 7% down on comparable May 2022, 16% ahead of May 2019. Business jet sectors between 90 minutes and 3 hours have seen the largest increase since pre-pandemic May 2019, sectors up 28%, although down 9% compared to May last year.

Private flight departments and Fractional Ownership operators are busier this year than last year and more than 30% up on 2019. Branded charter operations have fallen 20% in May 2023 versus May 2022, but still up 8% compared to May 2019. Amongst the busiest US airports for business jet departures, Teterboro is seeing 3% fewer departures this May than May 2022, just 2% ahead of May 2019. Business jet departures from Palm Beach are down by 12% compared to last year, although 57% ahead of May 2019.

Chart 2: North American business jet operator types 1st 21st May 2023 vs previous years.

Europe

In Week 20, ending May 21st, European business jet sectors grew 3% compared to the previous week, 12% below the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks the trend is 10% below the same dates in 2022. Business jet departures in Europe this month are 9% below May last year, although 6% ahead of 2019. 63% of business jet flights this month have been under 90 minutes in length, flights of these duration are down 11% compared to last year, 6% ahead of 2019. Medium haul (3-6hours) down 15% compared to 2019, 6% behind last year.

France is the busiest bizjet market in Europe this month, accounting for 15% of the region’s business jet departures. Departures from France are down 7% compared to last May, 3% ahead of May 2019. The United Kingdom is the second busiest market, departures are down 10% compared May 2022, 6% ahead of May 2019. Germanys business jet activity is stalling, 19% fewer departures than May last year, 1% below 2019.

Chart 3: Top European business jet markets, 1st 21st May 2023 vs previous years.

So far this month there have been almost 1,800 domestic business jet flights in France, 2% fewer than comparable 2019, contrast domestic scheduled airline activity which is down 30% compared to 2019. Paris to Nice is the busiest domestic bizjet city flow, departures 25% ahead of 2019, contrast scheduled airline flights between the two cities, departures are down 3% vs 2019. Elsewhere in France, the first week (16th 21st May) of Festival de Cannes International Film Festival had a positive impact on business jet arrivals into LFMD (Cannes Mandelieu Airport). During the opening week, average daily bizjet arrivals into LFMD were 75% higher than the average daily arrivals for the previous 30 days, however, the average daily arrivals during the event dropped 13% compared to the first week of the 2022 edition of the event.

Chart 4: Business jet arrivals to airports near Festival de Cannes International Film Festival

Rest of World

Outside of North America and Europe, business jet departures this month are 8% ahead of last year, although activity was down 10% in the Middle East in Week 20 2023 compared to same dates in 2022. So far this month, business jet flights from India and Nigeria are up 15% and 12% respectively, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia seeing demand fall 10% and 6% respectively, compared to last year. Business jet flights from China have rebounded 77% compared to May 2022, but still 16% below comparable 2019. Ultra-long-range jets are the busiest jet segment operating outside North America and Europe, their flights 22% ahead of last year, 49% up vs May 2019.