European business aircraft departures saw a slight year-over-year increase in December departures, but that wasn’t helped by business jets or charters, which were down by 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, according to the latest data from WingX Advance. Instead, the company said, the 53,546 departures last month in Europe were driven by “exceptional growth” in piston aircraft activity.
“Overall flight activity trends in December were flattered by a big increase in business piston traffic,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Clearly business jet demand slumped in France and especially Paris due to the widespread protests. Elsewhere, we’re seeing slackening activity in Italy, the UK, and Switzerland.”
Growth in France and Germany last month was helped by propeller activity, WingX said, as was flight activity within, from, and to Spain. Flight activity from North America to Europe was higher last month, as were business jet flights from China, which saw an 11 percent increase in 2018.
Nearly 60 percent of flights in December were charter, but this segment was flat year-over-year. Business jet charter flights, in particular, posted “solid declines” last month, chiefly among Cessna, Hawker, and Dassault aircraft, WingX said.
The Embraer Legacy and Cessna Citation Latitude were the business jet types with the most charter growth in December. “There is still momentum in the aircraft segments with recent entries into service such as the Cessna Citation Latitude,” Koe said.
For all of 2018, 13 of Europe’s 20 largest markets saw gains, with only Germany and Spain seeing robust growth, WingX said. The UK, France, and Italy experienced a clear slowdown in the second half of the year, WingX said, while the biggest declines came from Russia and Turkey. Among the region’s top airports, Le Bourget (LBG), Biggin Hill (BQH), and Farnborough (FAB) recorded the most growth in 2018, WingX said.
“The outlook for 2019 will depend significantly on the genuine demand for replacement and upgrade of older aircraft as new business jets now come off the production line in larger numbers,” Koe said.