wingx: virus outbreaks stutter flight recovery trends

July 3, 2020

Data provider company WINGX has released the below ‘Global Market Tracker’, keeping aviation professionals up to date with current Business Aviation trends.

Through June 2020, global business activity is trailing the comparable 2019 period by some 30%, more resilient than global scheduled flight activity which is down by almost 50% so far this year. During June, business aviation activity has continued to recover, ending the month with 28% fewer flights than in June 2019. The North American market has had the largest rebound since the global slump in April, but recovery trends in the US have slowed this month as lockdown-lifts have slowed across a number of US States.

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In Europe the recovery rate in the second half of June has been stronger than in any other region, although full month activity trend still looks to be 40% behind last year. Flight activity in the UK and Spain is still way behind the norm, 60% under par for June. Business aviation flights in Italy are back to half-normal, and France is back at the top of the ranking as the busiest European market, flights down by 40%. Switzerland is back to 70% of usual activity, and Scandinavian countries are only down a quarter. Best performer is Germany, flight activity down by only 18% year on year this month.

Normally busiest business aviation airports in Europe and the US, Le Bourget and Teterboro, continue to struggle for recovery, 60% below normal activity for June. In stark contrast, this month´s busiest airport, West Palm Beach, has seen over 2,600 departures this month, which marks an increase of over 45% YOY. In between, there continues to be a fairly robust recovery in activity at airports like Cannes, Biggin Hill and Zurich, down around a third, and in the US, Van Nuys is trailing by 20%, Centennial is down only 10% and flight departures from Salt Lake airport are flat YOY.

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Regions outside North America and Europe account for less than 10% of business aviation departures this month. Of these regions, Oceania activity has re-stabilised at around 90% of normal, Asia regional activity is stuck at 30% below, Africa is improving to 38% under par, and business aviation activity in South America is yet to be significantly eroded, at 87% of June 2019 activity. Some highlights within these regions include China, where recovery trends have dropped off in second half of June due to virus outbreaks in Beijing; UAE and Saudi Arabia, both of which have seen only very shallow recovery; and Turkey, with a country-wide decline of 20% in flights, but YOY growth from Ataturk.

Globally, the strength in recovery in activity continues to be inversely related to cabin size; ultra-long range business jets are flying 50% less, Heavy jets down 43%, Midsize declining by 33%, Super-Midsize by 28%, Light Jets by 22%, Very Light Jets by 19%. Turboprop flight recovery was robust in May and early June but has now tailed off, trending down by 28% in June YOY. These trends across segments are reflected in preference by aircraft type, with CJ3, Mustang and Nextant flying at more than 80% normal levels, the Phenom 300 recovering 73% of usual activity, ditto the best-performing midsize jet, Challenger 300, whereas Challenger 600 activity is 40% under par this month.

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Richard Koe comments: “The recovery in flight activity has hit a fragile period where lockdown-lifts are getting stuttered due to secondary localised virus outbreaks. But overall, June´s 30% YOY decline was a clear improvement on May´s 50% slump. Assuming that the opening up of economies can be resumed, we would expect stronger recovery in July, driven primarily by leisure travel in small and midsize jets. So far, much of the recovery has come from aircraft owners, but we would expect the mid-summer to see a much stronger comeback in the charter market.”