This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Global business aviation activity in May and the first few days of June are trailing the same period last year by 51 percent, according to data released yesterday by WingX Advance. North America continues to be the most robust region in the post-Covid recovery, with year-over-year activity now down 49 percent—an improvement over the 75 percent decrease seen in April.
The rolling seven-day average in North America started in May with 3,800 daily sectors but ramped up to 6,200 by the end of the month—a 63 percent increase. In the U.S., sectors flown in the seven days after Memorial Day were down only 39 percent versus the same dates in 2019.
In the rest of the world, much of the business aviation activity has operated out of Europe, which is still more than 60 percent below normal levels. Of the other regions, Oceania has recovered the most, with traffic only 25 percent below normal, and South America is now running 27 percent below par, WingX data shows. In Asia, flight activity since the start of May is down by about half year-on-year, although it has more than doubled in the last week. At the beginning of May, only half of the normally active worldwide fleet was operational and by the end of the month, fleet employment was down only 20 percent from normal.
Within Europe, Germany is the busiest, logging business aviation flights 44 percent below normal, while flight activity in Russia and France is down 53 percent and 63 percent, respectively. The countries seeing the largest negative impacts are still the UK, Spain, and Italy, having seen flight activity reduced by 70 percent or more.
“The key U.S. market appears to be entering a faster recovery phase, with holiday travel in the last week seeing close to normal activity for the end of May,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Europe is still lagging, with business aviation traffic down by 60 percent, though still much better than scheduled airlines, which are more than 80 percent below. Coming into the summer, we expect to see faster recovery, although countries with quarantines in place will obviously miss out.”
Since May 1, the busiest U.S. airports have been in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, with West Palm Beach, which is now running 80 percent of normal, topping that list. Dallas Love Field, Scottsdale Airport, and Florida's Naples Airport rounded out the list of top business aviation departure points. Meanwhile, flight activity from Teterboro is still languishing 80 percent below pre-crisis levels.
In Europe, Le Bourget, Geneva, Zurich, and London Biggin Hill are the busiest airports. Elsewhere on the continent, Moscow Vnukovo has been the busiest business jet hub.
Lighter jets continue to show more resilience than larger jets, WingX said. Bizliner movements are down by almost 80 percent and ultra-long-range and heavy jet flights are still about 60 percent of usual activity. The midsize segment is flying about half of normal levels, while entry-level jets and turboprops are faring even better, said WingX.
The Pilatus PC-12 and Beechcraft King Air 200 have operated 20 percent of all business aviation flights during May, with year-over-year activity down only 35 percent. Notably, Cirrus SF50 activity is actually slightly up from a year ago.