Foley: Air Charter Rebound Could Be Short-lived

 - September 3, 2020, 10:21 AM

A rebound in private aviation travel with Part 135 operators is likely to slow down after the summer, business aviation analyst Brian Foley said in an analysis released today. He added that buoyant reports of this activity, which aren’t necessarily reflected in traffic data, might shut out the industry from further government financial assistance.  What's more, he wrote, there’s nothing to indicate that business travel is poised for a similar rally.

“Once the frolicking at the beach is over and people return home, the focus normally turns to business trips in the fall,” Foley explained. “However, all one needs to do to predict the strength of the upcoming business travel season is to look at their own trip calendars, which for most road warriors are pretty scant compared to last year.”

Foley noted that despite some charter operators reporting a surge in new trip inquiries, few of them are turning into actual flights once those making the trip inquiries receive a five- or six-figure trip quote. “While there are a few pockets of legitimately increased charter activity depending on region, FAA flight data indicates it’s still off 12 percent year-over-year,” Foley wrote.

Further, there remains an oversupply in the air charter industry and operators have continued to be aggressive in their pricing, meaning any trips made by new clients are lower margin. Meanwhile, charter operators’ upbeat reports of increased interest in private aviation flights might leave officials with the impression that the industry doesn’t need to be included in any additional rounds of government financial aid. “While perhaps beneficial from a marketing perspective, these glowing accounts of the industry could backfire,” Foley concluded.