There’s a reason for optimism in Ohio this weekend. The state is home to NetJets and Directional Aviation’s Flexjet and Flight Options, which combined account for 85% of North American fractional flight activity.
Data from Argus TraqPak shows fractional flights for the first 15 days of May are virtually even with the total for April. As of yesterday, there were 6,417 departures so far this month under Part 91k, compared to 6,777 for the all of April.
Last month, fractional activity was down 80% compared to 2019, while in May it’s only 65% below last year’s levels.
That may not sound like a reason to get giddy. However, data from TSA checkpoints show airline passenger levels tracking at least 90% below last year’s levels for every day in May 2020 compared to one year ago.
The Argus data also shows a dramatic decline preceding the nascent recovery. On March 13, there were 1,294 fractional departures. Six days later that number had dropped by more than 50% to 562. On March 28th, daily departures hit a new low with 231. After a one day spike to 339 flights, it would be more than a month – until April 30 – before there would be another day with at least 300 fractional flights.
The low point appears to be April 7 when there were just 141 flights. In April 2019, there was an average of 1,149 daily fractional departures. On the same date last year, there were 1,230 flights meaning an 89% drop.
|Month and Day||Fractional Departures|
|Source: Argus Traqpak|
The Argus TraqPak data follows research from WingX in its weekly Global Flight Tracker which also shows recovery on a day-by-day basis. Argus did not break out individual operators. Its 2019 end-of-year report included Airshare, AirSprint, Nicholas Air, Northern Jet Management, and PlaneSense.
Part 135 activity includes on-demand charter and jet card flights, and often reflects short-term surges. However, customers in fractional programs commit to terms that run three to five years.
In addition to wealthy individuals, customers of fractional programs include companies and even corporate flight departments needing extra capacity, but not wanting to add more private jets to existing fleets.
In January, fractional activity increased year-over-year by 6.5%, and in February there was a 7% jump. A decline of 30% in March was followed by the 80% dive in April, and now May’s recovery, showing volume down by 65% through mid-month.
Since the start of March, Washington D.C. has been the busiest city for fractional departures. Argus reports 701 flights departing the nation’s capital. That figure was down from 1,774 flights over the same period last year.
Miami was next busiest, according to the data, with 361 flights, down from 988 in 2019. Fractional flights from Las Vegas were down from 1,082 to 341.