European Bizav Flying Rises on Wings of AOC Operators

 - May 10, 2017, 5:42 PM

Business aircraft departures in Europe fell 1 percent year-over-year last month, to 63,587, but overall flight hours for this sector still rose 4 percent, according to WingX's latest monthly Business Aviation Monitor released on May 10. In addition, year-to-date activity is up 4 percent. For the month, business jet activity was flat, while piston flights were up and turboprops were down.

Last month was “clearly affected by the later timing of the Easter break, which slowed activity in the latter half of April, particularly in Central, Western and Northern Europe,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Conversely, the later Easter boosted activity in Southern Europe.”

Germany took the brunt of the decline last month, with business aviation flights falling 11 percent and business jet departures dropping 17 percent. Activity in Italy and the UK was also down. In contract, business aircraft flying in France and Spain climbed—the latter by more than 20 percent. In addition, flights from Switzerland and Russia were slightly up, said WingX.

There was strong growth in flight arrivals from Africa and Asia, and arrivals from the Middle East and CIS region were “moderately up.” However, transatlantic arrivals slumped 12 percent year-over-year and are trending down in 2017, according to WingX.

The business aviation data firm noted “contrasting trends” last month between private and air operator certificate (AOC) flights. Private flights declined 5 percent from a year ago and have maintained a “slowing trend” over the last 12 months. In contrast, AOC flights surged 4 percent last month and have increased in each of the last six months.

Notably, AOC activity logged double-digit gains in several countries: more than 10 percent in Italy; 15 percent in France; more than 20 percent in Spain and Greece; and nearly 40 percent in Portugal. But private flights slumped in all top-five markets, and by around 10 percent in Germany, Italy and Belgium, according to the company’s data.

WingX said that business aviation activity rose at most of Europe’s busiest airports, though Geneva was flat and the top airports in Germany—notably Munich and Schoenefeld—all experienced declines. There was “strong growth,” especially in AOC business jet activity, from Nice, Biggin Hill and Mallorca.

A number of city pairs are well up year-to-date, including those that have regular airline connections, which underlines the attractiveness of convenience and comfort even where business aviation is more expensive than flying commercial,” Koe said. “Hybrid business aviation shuttles seem to be supporting this trend.”