Bizjet activity dropping amid challenging environment for charter operators

WINGXs weekly Business Aviation Bulletin.  

Summary

Business jet activity tapered significantly in the most recent week compared to the same week last year, although the lead on 2019 remains fairly robust. The market is weathering discouraging news, charter market and negative optics on sustainability. Charter bookings for summer 2023 are reportedly strong but may suffer from a generally deteriorating macroeconomic environment.

Global

For Week 21, ending 28th May, global business jet activity is down by 9% compared to the same dates in May 2022. This widens the month-to-date decline of 7% versus May last year. For the year-to-date, the drop in global bizjet activity is now 5% compared to last year, but still up 17% versus 2019. Comparably, global scheduled airline activity is trending 10% up on last year so far this month, still 14% behind May 2019. Although the top 5 global airlines have flown 7% more sectors this month compared to four years ago.

Chart 1: Global fixed wing flights, May 1st – May 28th 2023 compared to previous years. (Note business aviation includes turboprops)

North America

In Week 21 business jet sectors fell 8% compared to the previous week, 10% behind the same dates in 2022. In the last four weeks activity fell 8% behind the same dates in 2022. 59% of business jet flights in North America this month have been less than 90 minutes in duration, flights of this length are down 5% compared to last year, 11% ahead of 2019. Flights between 1.5 3 hours have seen the largest increase since pre-pandemic May, flights are up 28%. Ultra-long-range flights (12+ hours) have slumped the most compared to last May, flights are down 31%.

In the United States business jet activity during the Memorial Day Weekend (26th 29th May) was up 14% compared to the same holiday weekend in 2019, but 9% down on the Memorial dates last year. In contrast scheduled airline activity was down 9% this year compared to the 2019 holiday weekend.

Demand across the top bizjet operators in the US this month (1st 28th May) was mixed, NetJets US departures down 1% compared to last year, although 30% ahead of activity in comparable 2019. Flexjet has seen departures rise 10% this month compared to last year, 96% ahead of 2019. JetIt US departures have slumped 41% compared to May 2022.

Chart 2: United States Business Jet departures vs scheduled airline departures Memorial Day Weekend 2023 2019.

Europe

In Week 21, European business jet sectors grew 14% compared to the previous week but fell 11% behind the same dates in 2022. The trend in the last four weeks is 10% below the same dates in 2022, still 7% ahead of 2019. All the busiest European markets have seen bizjet activity levels fall behind last year during May. Busiest market France has seen departures drop off 8% compared to last year, with double digit declines for the United Kingdom and Germany. Portugal bucks the overall European trend, departures are up 21% compared to May 2022.

During the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend (26th 28th May), bizjet arrivals into Nice (LFMN) were down 7% compared to the 2019 Grand Prix dates, noting that the 2019 event was held over a longer 4-day period. In terms of average daily arrivals, the 2023 Grand Prix saw 24% more bizjet arrivals compared to four years ago. But compared to the 2022 event, the busiest on record, arrivals were down 17% this year. Elsewhere in Europe´s bizjet calendar, there were 187 bizjet arrivals into LSGG during the EBACE event days last week (23rd 25th May), 10% fewer than during the EBACE period in 2022.

Chart 3: Monaco F1 Grand Prix

Rest of World

In the first 28 days of May, business jet departures outside of North America and Europe are trending 10% ahead of last year. Busiest markets are seeing some declines compared to May last year, Australia down 6%, United Arab Emirates down 6% and Saudi Arabia down 2%. Business jet departures from China are down 16% compared to May 2019, rebounding 83% compared to last year.

Chart 4: Top Rest of World Markets, May 1st 28th 2023 compared to previous years.