This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
With the one-year anniversary of the declaration of Covid as a pandemic this week, global business aviation activity is down just 2 percent year-over-year, according to industry data provider WingX. It said business aviation accounted for a larger percentage of all fixed-wing traffic thus far in 2021 at 19 percent, compared with 12 percent in the same period last year.
WingX noted business aviation recovery in the U.S. is being led by those 12 states that recently loosened their travel restrictions. Departures from those areas are up 11 percent so far in March year-over-year, compared with a 5 percent decline in January and February and a 25 percent decrease from March 2020 through December. Flights from Florida to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Colombia, and Costa Rica improved by more than 50 percent, while gateways in the state such as Palm Beach International, Miami Opa-Locka Executive, and Naples airports are all reporting record travel levels. For the month, very light jet activity in the Sunshine State is up by 45 percent compared with a year ago, with ultra-long-range jets seeing a 23 percent improvement over the same span.
Europe—after experiencing a 26 percent year-over-year drop in business aviation activity in January and February—is also showing an improvement. Nonscheduled jet and propeller-powered aircraft activity is down just 12 percent year-over-year so far in March versus a 74 percent decrease in airline flights for the same period. European business aircraft activity for January and February was down by 26 percent. Year-over-year,
March flight activity in Italy, which first went into lockdown on March 9, 2020, is much higher, and strong growth was seen in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Greece, Hungary, and Serbia, but the UK continues to experience the worst impact from the continuing lockdown, with business aviation flights down by more than 50 percent so far for the month.
“Business aviation in the U.S. is remarkably buoyant, with clear growth on the pre-pandemic period in 2020,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Activity in Europe is getting closer to normal, with trends also starting to reflect comparison with the slowdown pre-lockdown in March 2020.” He added that Asian flight activity, particularly in China, is already reflecting the recovery from the lockdown in progress a year ago.