Out of the approximately 420,000 business jet flights in Europe last year, perhaps as many as 2,500 could have been eliminated, according to research by online charter market place and data provider Avinode (Booth 5134). While one of private aviation’s major value propositions is its broad routing network, which resulted in around 139,000 empty legs in Europe alone in 2013, the Göteborg, Sweden-based company believes that more efficient communication in the industry could reduce that number, especially between frequently linked city pairs.
The company wanted to look at the percentage of one-way trips in the industry and determine how many could be combined, explained Magnus Henriksson, Avinode’s business development manager. Among all those flights, Henriksson acknowledged that some could be to obscure destinations where there may not be a high possibility of someone booking the empty leg, but for highly frequented destinations there is a much greater possibility. “The 100 most popular routes [within Europe] cover 44,000 flights,” he noted, adding there were around 3,500 between Geneva and Paris last year. “Of those, 16,000 are related to one-way trips. The logic is if you are doing a one-way, there is the possibility of actually combining that with an empty leg.”
Of the 16,000 one-way flights last year, the company’s research showed that there were 5,000 empty legs and, based on an analysis of Avinode’s schedule data and actual flight information from Eurocontrol–as well as aircraft size discrepancies and traffic densities, the company estimates that at least half that amount were unnecessary.
In operation since 2001 Avinode, which has 3,400 aircraft participating in its worldwide charter marketplace, has long been a forum for operators and brokers to buy and sell such flights, and this month it augmented its empty-leg functionality to make it even more efficient. “The main benefit is the operators actually verify the empty legs and this is in direct response to our member feedback,” said Henriksson. “When the brokers go in and look for the empty legs, they see a green symbol where an operator has gone in and said this is an empty leg that is verified as available for sale.” If the aircraft does not have an urgent need to return to its base, operators can include this information as well, perhaps enlarging the window for the return flight by several days if needed. Pricing for such empty legs can also now be displayed. If the member operator uses a fleet management system, the information on the flight is automatically sent to Avinode for listing when they update it.
Henriksson believes such improved communication on existing empty legs could have far reaching effects in the market, such as increases in efficiency up to 6 percent on to top 100 routes in Europe. “On high-density routes, the industry becomes more efficient,” he told AIN. “You would fly more passengers with less aircraft in the air, giving operators the opportunity to probably promote their product at a more affordable rate to the clients, which would expand our industry or make our product offering more attractive.” He also noted that it could free up aircraft to take on other, more lucrative missions.