Private jet flights drop 80% in April from COVID-19 Coronavirus impact

By Doug Gollan, April 20, 2020

Researcher WingX projects business aviation to remain at low levels through month’s end

Just over 26,000 business jet flights operated worldwide in the first two weeks of April 2020, 79% below the same period in 2019, according to WingX’s Global Market Tracker.

WingX’s Global Market Tracker recorded a 79% drop in private jet flights during the first two weeks of April

The drop equates to 95,000 fewer sectors, according to the researcher. North America and Europe seeing the steepest dive.

Activity in Asia, South America, and Africa are down between 65% and 70% while flight activity out of China is down by 57%.

“It appears that the decline in business aviation activity has hit its trough in the first half of April, flying at around 20% of normal activity, rising towards 30% if we include Turboprops, where there is some resilience,” said Richard Koe, WingX managing director.

He added, “By comparison, scheduled airline activity is down by 81%, with around 90% declines in Europe.”

May spike for Private Jets?

Business aviation activity is expected to remain at the current very low level for the rest of April, with the prospect of a spike in demand coming in May as lockdown restrictions are lifted, he said.

“The bad news is that it looks like the summer season, which is critical for business aviation, is going to be largely disrupted this year, with ongoing restrictions and canceled events suppressing a near-term recovery in flight demand,” Koe noted.

U.S. leads private travel drop and activity

Just under 1,000 business jets were active worldwide in the first half of April, compared to over 4,000 in the corresponding 2019 period.

Despite the drop, the U.S. still ranked as busiest nation with just under 18,000 business jet flights. That was 79% less year on year.

Canada registered the second most flights followed by Mexico then Germany, down by 74%.

France, UK, Spain and Italy activity is down by more than 80%. Flights out of Russia dropped by 69%. The least affected major market has been Australia with flight activity down by half.

The most used private jets were the Citation Excel/XLS, Challenger 300, Phenom 300, and Challenger 600.

By cabin size, the largest cabin aircraft have seen activity most affected, flights down by over 80%. Very Light Jets have relatively least decline, activity down by 70%. Turboprops beat the broader business aviation market with a 71% decline. Pilatus PC-12s, Caravans and King Air 200s sustained 55% of typical activity.

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