Charter activity is up worldwide, according to data and anecdotal reports, and appears to be gathering momentum. In the U.S., charter is leading a domestic business aviation resurgence, registering a 10- percent increase in the number of flights (543,449 compared with 493,431) and 12.7-percent boost in flight hours (765,196 compared with 679,018) in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, lifting the overall gain in business aviation activity 3.9 percent. Part 135 activity grew five of the first six months, and more hours (119,696) were flown in the slowest month this year (February) than in any of the first six months of last year, according to the Argus 2017 Midyear Business Aviation Review.
“There are a lot of options for ways people can access private aircraft, and the Part 135 operators and brokerage community have done a really good job of marketing their products,” said Joe Moeggenberg, Argus president, CEO and founder, adding, “the number of inquiries we’re getting from people who have never used private airplanes before is on the uptick.”
In June online charter marketplace platform Avinode reported handling a record 500,000 trip quote requests worldwide for the month, a milestone shattered in July with 624,000 requests, representing a YoY increase of almost 50 percent. “There is an optimism back in the industry,” said Per Marthinsson, Avinode co-founder and executive v-p Americas.
Likewise, the second-quarter report of JSSI’s Business Aviation Index, which tracks 2,000 business aircraft worldwide, including the fleets of major charter operators VistaJet, Delta Private Jets and Executive Air Share, is also “up significantly,” said Neil Book, JSSI president and CEO.
Plenty of upside remains. “We’re not seeing any slowing down,” said Moeggenberg, and the activity level “is nowhere close to 2007 and 2008,” added Marthinsson, referring to the busy years before the big recession.