This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Worldwide business aviation departures fell 30 percent year-over-year last month as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, according to data released today by WingX Advance. Activity in Europe was down by 34 percent, while that for the U.S. dropped 30 percent.
In Europe, there were 17,800 fewer flights flown month-on-month, with declines accelerating toward the end of March, with the last few days seeing close to 50 percent reductions, WingX said. Activity in Italy plummeted 70 percent year-over-year last month, while France was down 43 percent; Germany, down 30 percent, and the UK, down 23 percent. Sweden was a bright spot, reporting that business aviation flying there rose 1.3 percent in March. Like Europe, Asia saw trends closer to a 35 percent decline.
Meanwhile, the March decline in the U.S. equates to more than 100,000 business aviation flights month-on-month. The first half of the month saw modest turbulence, with declines accelerating from there. In fact, WingX said flight activity fell 66 percent on March 31 from a year ago, noting “and that compares a Tuesday with a Sunday.”
“The abruptness of the decline in business aviation activity last month is only comparable to the effect of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption back in 2010, only with much longer and more severe consequences,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “WingX expects a trough in flight activity in April, which might see some countries completely shut down flights. With an optimistic outlook for ending virus containment, we might see renewed demand for flights by the summer, at which point business aviation might have a window of opportunity to meet pent-up demand while the airline capacity is still parked.”