Business-aircraft flying in Europe still has yet to find its footing, with April activity down 0.8 percent year-over-year, to 62,968 departures, according to data released May 5 by Germany-based WingX Advance. Year-to-date, traffic is down by 2.7 percent, the aviation data firm said.
“The trend so far in 2015 appears to indicate that 2014 was a false dawn on a generalized recovery in business aviation activity in Europe,” noted WingX managing director Richard Koe. “The CIS market’s collapse is the main factor, although it's clear that business-jet activity has also weakened in the Eurozone.”
France and Germany propped up the market, with flying up 4 percent there, though this was largely driven by piston and turboprop activity. The recent growth trend in the UK came to an end last month, with traffic there experiencing a 1-percent slowdown. “This was evident in diminished activity at Luton and Farnborough, although Biggin Hill was one of Europe’s faster growing airports for the month,” WingX said.
Collapse in business-aviation activity in Eastern Europe and Russia continued in April, with flights inbound from the CIS down 26 percent from a year ago. Flights from Europe to Russia were down 20 percent year-over-year, but this is less than the year-to-date -25-percent trend, “so the decline may be bottoming out.”
The slowdown in activity is not confined to just the Eurozone periphery, as indicated by flight reductions—mostly in the charter segment—in Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. However, there were still some pockets of growth in business-aircraft flying, notably in Turkey, Czech Republic and Austria, the latter of which saw charter activity increase by 8 percent year-over-year. Inbound flights from North America climbed by 6 percent; from North Africa, 14 percent; and from Asia-Pacific, 18 percent.
By aircraft category, ultra-long-range aircraft activity continued to rise, maintaining 6-percent growth over a 12-month trend. Breaking it down further, Falcon 7X flying increased 14 percent from a year ago, while Gulfstream GV/550 flying was down 6 percent last month.
At the lower end, very-light-jet activity slumped 11 percent in April, “mostly due to fewer owner flights,” WingX said. Overall, light-jet flying was down, but there were “strong gains” for some models, including the Cessna Citation CJ1 and Embraer Phenom 300.
“The ultra-long-range segment remains resilient,” Koe said. “Embraer Phenom usage is still climbing and we're seeing a strong rebound in super-midsize charter activity.”