Despite limited growth, private air travel, particularly charter, is facing a slowdown, according to WingX

There were 66,736 business aviation departures in Europe last month, a strong increase over February, but just 0.7% growth compared to same month results for 2018, according to WingX an aviation consulting and data company. The analyst said results were driven by a large increase in piston traffic offsetting declines in business jet and turboprop. First quarter 2019 total activity was up 0.6% compared to 2018.

Private jet charter drops in Europe

Richard Koe, WingX managing director said, “Total business aviation activity continues to eke out some growth this year, but business jet activity is clearly slowing, evidently in the charter market.”

He continued, “This is coming from a big drop off in peripheral markets such as Russia and Turkey, and slowdown in key city hubs, notably London, which is a direct consequence of business uncertainty and falling consumer confidence as Brexit drags on. The large cabin jet market continues to see some overall strength, notably in super midsize and ultra-long range jet activity.”

Small growth in France

March saw some small growth in top market France, slightly declining activity in Switzerland and UK, abig drop in activity in Germany, and large gains in Spain, WingX said. Decline in Germany came in small and midsize jets, and all the gains in Spain came from propeller driven aircraft.

Besides Germany, biggest gains for March came in Sweden and Netherlands. Turkey activity was up 3% this month but lags 12% year-to-date. For the first three months of 2019, Spain showed the strongest growth with business aviation activity up 9% compared to the same period in 2018.

Large cabin private jet flights increase by 2%

Large jet activity was up 2% for March, with strong gains in Italy, departures up by 12% year-over-year. Midsize and small jet flights fell 2% with an 8% decline in Germany and a 13% drop in Russia. Business aviation activity out of London fell 6% in March.

European departures to North America and Africa were up, but flights to the Asia-Pacific region fell by 12%. Arrivals into Europe from CIS were up by 3%, but down for Q1 overall.

European private charter flights dropped 1%

Charter/AOC activity dropped 1% in March, WingX reported, reinforcing a much weaker trend so far this year compared to last year. Conversely, private flight activity increased 3%, extending a stronger trend compared to the last two years.

Textron aircraft flew 4% less in March. Gulfstream jet activity was flat, whereas Bombardier, Dassault and Embraer jet flights were up YOY. There was strong growth in Bombardier Charter/AOC movements, and for Dassault, in Private flights.

For business jets, Global Express and Hawker Nextant types showed strong growth in March especially in the Charter/AOC market. Citation Mustang and CJI1 activity continued to decline heavily while there was a big increase in Private activity on Falcon 900 and 2000.

London airports saw a big drop in activity in March, with 13% fall in departures from Luton, 6% decline from Farnborough, although a9% gain out of Biggin Hill.

Top Swiss airports were down in March, so was Nice, but Le Bourget and Vnukovo were up YOY, WingX said. You can see the February WingX report here.

About the Author Doug Gollan

I am Founder and Editor of Private Jet Card Comparisons, the only independent buyer's guide to jet card membership programs, and DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly luxury travel e-newsletter for private jet owners. I am also a contributor to Forbes.com