While operations have continued to flourish globally, business aviation data research specialist WingX warns of dampened demand, particularly in Europe, in the face of the Ukraine crisis. WingX said in the latest Global Market Tracker report that “the Ukraine crisis has rapidly displaced the pandemic as the most significant destabilizing factor in the European region.” Managing director Richard Koe added, “Downstream consequences from the current crisis could have severe economic consequences, which will threaten flight demand as the year unfolds.”
Over the past seven days, the only European country to see an obvious slowdown was Germany, where flights were down some 16 percent over pre-pandemic 2019. During February, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands have been up 20 percent over February 2019, and France, Switzerland, Turkey, and Russia have been up 10 percent. Russia has seen steady growth, appearing on an upward trajectory in the past 18 months, particularly with large jets, WingX noted. In 2021 activity involving Russian-registered jets was up 80 percent over 2019.
However, while the fallout of the Ukraine crisis is unclear, WingX said it is bound to cause significant short-term turbulence. In Europe last year, 11 percent of all country connections involved Russia or Ukraine. The exposure is higher for Estonia and Cyprus with respective 22 percent and 16 percent of flights headed toward Russia. However, it is not as significant in other European countries, such as the UK, where just 1 percent of outbound flights head to Russia.
By aircraft, a quarter of European BBJ flights and 12 percent of Gulfstream activity connected through Russia and Ukraine in 2021. Just 3 percent of Cessna Citation flights in Europe involved Russia or Ukraine as the destination.
Meanwhile, to date, global business jet flights are up by 12 percent over January and February 2019 and 31 percent from last year. There is little sign of a slowdown in North America, WingX reported, noting business jet flights there in February have been 16 percent ahead of 2019 and 54 percent above last year. The rest of the world is improving, up 44 percent so far this year over 2019 levels, while up 16 percent from last year.
“Geopolitical issues are now front-stage in terms of outlook for continued growth in business aviation,” Koe said. “For European business jet operators, Russia and Ukraine connections comprise almost 10 percent of all flights, with Central and Eastern Europe, and heavy jets in general, having a much larger exposure.”