Business aviation activity, led by branded charter, marked a 30 percent improvement last month from a year ago but still remains down 8 percent overall from March 2019. Last month’s rebound is reflective of economies opening up, compared with a year ago when lockdown policies were spreading globally, WingX noted in its latest Global Market Tracker report.
While business aviation is improving, scheduled airline activity is still down by 18 percent from March 2020 and 44 percent below March 2019. As such, business aviation activity represented 14 percent of all fixed-wing activity globally in 2019; its share in March 2021 was 20 percent.
North America accounted for 80 percent of the global business jet and turboprop activity, with 285,000 flights in March. This is up 31 percent from a year ago but down 8 percent from March 2019. The U.S. specifically is recovering faster, with activity up 36 percent from a year ago and within 10 percent of what WingX called the March 2019 “normality.”
In a positive industry sign, management companies experienced a 40 percent year-over-year industry jump, but WingX said branded charter is the underlying strength of the industry. That sector was up 10 percent from March 2019 and 2 percent when comparing year-to-date totals from this year and 2019.
Heavy and ultra-long-range business jet operations were up 25 percent in the U.S. versus March 2020, but totals for the first quarter were still down from the same period a year ago. However, entry-level and very-light jet operations were up 15 percent in the quarter. The Cirrus Vision is helping drive increases in the very-light-jet sector, which was also up 5 percent over March 2019. Light and midsize jet operations, meanwhile, were up 40 percent in March and 10 percent in the first quarter.
In Europe, business aviation activity increased 19 percent year-over-year in March but remains 20 percent behind March 2019. However, WingX said the rolling average daily activity has recovered to its highest level since October. Italy has seen almost a threefold increase in flights from March 2020, for example.