This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Business aviation movements continue to strengthen globally, down just 12 percent year-over-year so far in September, a marked improvement from the respective declines in June, July, and August of 20 percent, 18 percent, and 16 percent, according to industry analyst WingX. Overall, the sector continues to be more buoyant than airline flying, which is down 57 percent in the U.S. and 60 percent in Europe as it continues to suffer under the lingering effects of Covid-19, WingX added.
The recovery for business aviation is occurring at different rates through the various regions. Some 65 percent of global activity is U.S. based, WingX said. Europe, the next busiest market, has seen activity drop to about 6 percent below September 2019 after a 3 percent year-over-year jump in August.
Propelling flight recovery in the U.S. is charter demand. Branded charter flight hours are down about 12 percent on the year but have improved throughout the summer and are now up 4 percent so far this month. But, as with the global stage, recovery is uneven throughout the U.S. with traditionally busy charter markets such as Teterboro, McCarran Las Vegas, and Oakland still “way behind,” WingX said. However, Van Nuys is up 5 percent year-over-year and, following the trends of more leisure flights, recent charter gains have been logged at Miami-Opa Locka, West Palm Beach, and Nantucket. Charter flights between the U.S. and the Bahamas are up 11 percent thus far this month.
Smaller aircraft continue to drive the recovery, with the Beechcraft King Air 350, Cessna Citation XLS, and Pilatus PC-12 being among the most frequently used aircraft and charter growth noted with Cessna Citation Xs and Bombardier Learjet 60s.
“The European market is showing predictable slowdown as leisure demand winds up, although the light jet charter market has stayed resilient. That may change in the second half of the month as holidays end,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “The U.S. market is improving on its recent YOY trend, with the boost coming from charter operations. A key question for the industry going into Q4 is whether the new first-time users of business aviation will stick.”