Bizav Traffic Remains Up over 2019 Despite Omicron

 - December 13, 2021, 11:38 AM
Business aircraft flying continued to climb in the first week of December, though it is slowing a bit from November due to typical seasonal changes and, potentially, the Omicron Covid variant. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

Business aviation activity globally is still topping 2019 numbers, with flights up 6 percent from two years ago in the first week of December, according to WingX’s latest Business Aviation Bulletin. However, the business aviation data specialist said activity had slowed week-over-week with normal seasonal changes taking effect but also possibility reflecting incremental restrictions from the onset of the Omicron Covid variant.

The increase in the first week of December is “perceptibly slower” than a week earlier, when global activity was up 14 percent over the same period in 2019, WingX noted. However, this remains stronger than scheduled passenger traffic, which is still down by 30 percent from 2019 levels. Business aviation traffic in the first week was also up 48 percent from a year ago.

North America has accounted for 3.5 million of the 4.6 million business jet and turboprop flights so far this year and is matching 2019 activity overall. Counting the U.S. alone, business jet traffic is up 3 percent year-to-date and 5 percent in December. The Thanksgiving period in the U.S. saw a 20 percent jump.

Fractional operators, however, have continued to see surging traffic in December, up 13 percent over 2019. Charters are slowing a bit, up just 1 percent this month.

European business aviation flights are up 8 percent over 2019 so far, but still down from the 30 percent growth in November. In Germany, activity has returned to pre-pandemic levels while it contracted by 10 percent in the UK over December 2019. Flights are down in Austria and Belgium—both of which are dealing with lockdowns—by 20 percent, compared with December 2019. However, flights in Spain are up 42 percent and eight of Europe’s busiest markets are also up over 2019, WingX reported.

In the rest of the world, flights are down 4 percent in 2021 over 2019 levels, with Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco as the worst-performing markets this year and Brazil, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey among the strongest markets.