Aircraft Charter Demand Continues Steady Climb

 - March 2, 2010, 11:53 AM

The U.S. executive charter market enjoyed a markedly stronger month in February than during the same month a year earlier, according to the latest data from online charter booking portal CharterX. Midsize jets showed the strongest recovery, with a 25.9-percent year-over-year increase, to 15,509 flight hours. Heavy jets recovered by 12.3 percent, to 8,610 hours, and light jets climbed 11 percent, to 14,757 hours. Overall, flight hours last month were down slightly from January, but CharterX said this is in keeping with seasonal trends and the market continued to track the S&P 500 index fairly closely. Looking forward, demand for charter flights is set to pick up again this month, with the demand index generated by online charter portal Avinode standing at 81.69 as of yesterday–almost 17 points up on the data from February 1, when it was 65. The index for this month is also almost 23 points above the 59.07 level recorded a year ago. At the same time, average charter rates have also hardened. In North America, the average rate for a Citation Excel increased 5.2 percent to $3,237 per flight hour; Hawker 800, $3,321 (+4.3 percent); and Challenger 604, $4,933 (+6.3 percent). In Europe, the respective prices were €2,776 (+0.3 percent); €3,346 (+1.6 percent); and €4,538 (+3 percent).