As business aviation activity in North America continues to rebound from the depths of the downturn, that has meant good news and growing prosperity for many of the companies that service those aircraft. According to industry data provider Argus, in its 2015 Business Aviation Review, the industry posted a year-over-year rise in flight activity in 24 of the 25 months since December 2013. Last year it saw a 2.1-percent rise in flight activity and a 2.7-percent gain in flight hours. “We actually consider 2015 to be kind of a breakout year,” said Atlantic Aviation CEO Lou Pepper. “I don’t mean it was great, but it just seemed to look like a lot of the fundamentals that have driven the business prior to the downturn are coming back.”
Flight activity last year was 4.2 percent up on 2013 levels, and it was 4 percent higher than in 2012. “Each year has taken a few baby steps forward. If you put them all together, I think 2015 was the watershed year,” Pepper told AIN. “Business is back to a healthy level now.”
That corresponds to the results from the Aviation Business Strategies Group’s annual FBO Industry Fuel Sales Survey and Forecast, released this year on the eve of NBAA’s Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference in January. Some 54 percent of the FBOs reported they had sold between 1 and 8 percent more fuel last year. “This is the first time since we started the survey that more than 50 percent of the respondents sold more fuel than in the previous year,” said company co-principal and FBO industry veteran John Enticknap.
Optimism for 2016 abounded among the survey respondents, with more than 90 percent saying they expect either the same or better fuel sales than in 2015.