Robust growth continues for business aviation in EU

 - September 12, 2006, 10:06 AM

Eurocontrol, the European international body that coordinates upper-airspace IFR traffic, recently published a study about business aviation in its 31-nation territory– the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Eastern Europe. The organization has produced studies on scheduled and non-scheduled air traffic in the past, with the purpose of anticipating growth and preparing infrastructure. The new study reflects the increasing importance of business aviation in Europe.

Eurocontrol notes that business aviation made 6.9 percent of all IFR flights in Europe last year. The organization defines this category in a list of 78 aircraft types and derivatives, from piston twins, such as the four-seat Piper Seminole, to the Gulfstream V and Global Express. Larger aircraft, such as Boeing Business Jets, Airbus Corporate Jetliners and corporate shuttles of more than 19 seats are not included in the study, which also excludes VFR flights and helicopters. Traffic is defined as the number of departures.

Eurocontrol concedes that there might be some overlaps and omissions in its definitions but emphasizes that the study corresponds with the three categories of the International Business Aviation Council: commercial flights (on-demand charter, air taxi, fractional operators); corporate flights (aircraft owned by companies and used for their own needs); and owner-operated aircraft used for business.

Business aviation, as Eurocontrol defines it, has increased by 22 percent in Europe since 2001, twice as fast as the rest of air traffic.

According to the study, business aviation links 100,000 airport pairs in Europe, three times as many as the airlines. Nearly half of all business flights cover less than 270 nm, and only 9 percent qualify as long-range flights of more than 1,080 nm. Eurocontrol also notes that 40 percent of flights are positioning flights without passengers.

The approximately 2,000 business aircraft based in Europe are in the hands of 700 operators. A few large companies operate more than two aircraft, but most operators have only one or two. The largest operator is NetJets, which has 91 aircraft registered in Portugal, though most are not based there.

The organization estimates that the European fleet of business aircraft will grow an average of 4 percent per year during the coming decade, which will add 1,000 business aircraft and result in a total fleet of 3,000 aircraft or more by 2015, depending on the success of VLJs.

Six nations in Eurocontrol’s territory accounted for nearly 69 percent of all departures last year. These are France (17.85 percent); Germany (14.91 percent); the UK (12.42 percent); Italy (11.75 per- cent); Spain (6.04 percent); and Switzerland (5.77 percent). With one exception (Vienna), the 15 airports with the highest average of daily business flight departures are located in these countries.

Paris Le Bourget is the predictable number one, with an average of 65.6 business-aircraft departures per day last year, followed by Geneva with 40.9 departures. Next are Rome Ciampino and Milan Linate, with 36.1 and 35.8 departures respectively, followed by Luton, the number-one business airport of greater London with 31.0 departures.

London, however, is number one as an area, with 75.9 departures if Farnborough (20.8), London City (12.5) and Biggin Hill (11.6) are also taken into account. London City is also the airport with the fastest growth in business-aircraft traffic (40.1 percent). Other airports with above-average growth in business-aircraft traffic are Nice (15.6 percent), Vienna Schwechat (15.5 percent), Barcelona (14.4 percent), and Madrid Torrejon (12.8 percent). German airports with the most business traffic are Munich (20.2 daily departures), Stuttgart (17.7) and Cologne-Bonn (13.9).

The business aviation study is part of Eurocontrol’s effort to meet the challenge of future growth. The organization is developing new equipment and procedures at its experimental center at Bretigny near Paris and continues seeking to complete its “Single European Sky” project, which aims to eliminate all remaining national ATC boundaries in its territory.

Top Five Business Aircraft in Europe
1. King Air B200
2. Citation Bravo
3. Hawker
4. Cessna 525
5. Cessna CJ2

Source: Eurocontrol