Ultra-long-range private jet charter bucks business aviation's European decline

By Doug Gollan, May 8, 2019

Except for long-haul charters, WingX says April results show heavy turbulence for private aviation

According to WingX, there were 66,165 business aviation departures in Europe in April, a similar volume to March, but 3.1% fewer flights than April 2019. What’s more, 12-month activity is trending less than1% growth, a mere 10% above the recession trough in 2009, and 11% down from the highpoint back in 2008.

Richard Koe, managing director of WingX, said,  “Business aviation activity slowed further this month, reinforcing the impression that European demand has stalled since the fourth quarter of 2018.”

He added, “Business jet activity is slowing across all the top regional markets, especially in the light aircraft segments. Business jet charter flights were well down year over year, particularly in entry-level and very light jet segments, reflecting the exit of air taxi operator Blink last year.

WingX how many private jet flights Europe

“Broader macro issues are clearly affecting the industry, with London flight activity down by 5% this year. One exception to the negative overall picture is ultra long-range activity, which is trending up, primarily in fractional and charter activity.” He said.

April business jet activity dropped 5% year-over-year (YOY), with an 8% decline in privately-filed flights. Small and midsize jets had most of the decline with at least 10% YOY falls in activity in France, UK and Switzerland.

Large jet activity, down 3% overall, was flat in the UK and up by 5% YOY in Italy. The declines in large jet flying mainly came in France and Germany with activity falling close to 10%. Large Jet departures from Spain were down 13%, and from Turkey, they plummeted 21% YOY.

Business aviation out of London was down 5% last month, in line with year-to-date declines. Paris saw a big drop in YOY business aviation activity, down 16%, falling 20% in small cabin jets. Large jet flights were flat out of Nice, but midsize and small cabin departures fell 10% YOY.

Most of the decline last month was for flights within Europe, those falling 4% YOY. Flights from Europe to North America and Africa were up in the month as flights between Europe and Middle East as well as Asia Pacific continued to decline.

Charter operator activity fell 2% YOY in April, as per March, which makes five consecutive months of decline. Privately filed flights fell 4%, with biggest declines in Bombardier, Cessna and Gulfstream activity. Global Express Private flights were down 8% YOY.

Textron aircraft flew 7% less YOY, with some offset from the continued growth in Citation Latitude activity, but entry level and VLJ activity is slumping. Citation Mustang flights were down by 19% and Phenom 100 by 21%. VLJ Charters fell by more than 25% YOY.

All business jet segments except super light were down this month, although super light jet, light jet, super midsize and ultra long-haul  jet activity is still trending up YTD. Ultra long-range jet charter activity was up by 10% during the past 12 months, and last month Global Express charters were up 11.5% YOY.

Most of the top 20 European airports saw diminished YOY activity in April, especially LFPB, LSZH, LSGG. EGKB, EDDM, and EGGW still had slight growth this month. Flights from the busiest airports to destinations outside Europe are almost all trending upwards.

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