As private jet flights continue their COVID-19 rebound, the routes are changing

By Doug Gollan, June 19, 2020

While private jet traffic is at 74% of 2019 levels compared to 15% for the airlines, inside the numbers are big differences

The rebound of private jet travel from the depths of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has been one of the very few bright spots across the travel industry.

While data from the TSA shows passenger levels for the airlines are still off by around 85%, private jet flights have recovered to 74% of 2019 levels, according to WingX.

However, a look inside the numbers shows where those private jets are flying is significantly different.

Where are the private jets flying?

According to an analysis of WingX flight activity data by Private Jet Card Comparisons, 40 of the 50 busiest routes in 2019 were still off by more than 50%. What’s more, 26 of those airport pairs were down by at least 70%. In fact, in 17 instances, the decline was over 80%.

Data analyzed covered flights from June 1 to 17, 2020 compared to the same dates for 2019. Flights included Part 135, 91K, and 91 private jet operations. Part 135 represents on-demand charter and jet cards, 91K is fractional ownership, and Part 91 is owned aircraft.

Viva Las Vegas by private jet

The busiest route last year – Burbank (KBUR) to Las Vegas (KLAS) – was off 70%, a drop from 161 flights, nearly 10 per day, to just 49 flights, less than three daily. That dropped the route to the 15th busiest for the period.

Orange County, California (KSNA) to Las Vegas dropped from second to eighth. Flights in the reverse direction held up, falling to fourth from the third spot despite a decline from 144 to 74 flights.

Las Vegas to Burbank moved from fourth in 2019 to a 12th place tie, while flights from the gaming capital of the world to Van Nuys (KNVY) dropped from 5th place to 16th.

In fact, Las Vegas International was on either side of the six busiest routes in 2019. Combined, flights were off by 63% during the period compared to an overall 26% drop in U.S. private jet flights.

Casinos in Las Vegas didn’t reopen until June 4th, which might indicate future upside. Last year, McCarran ranked as the 5th busiest airport for private flights in the U.S.

Falling flights

Not holding up as well was Teterboro (KTEB) to Washington Dulles (KIAD). The route, ranked 7th busiest in 2019, was off by 83%, dropping it to the 89th spot. The reverse ranked 9th to 95th.

Oakland (KOAK) to Burbank fell from 8th to 33rd, while the reverse fell from 10th to 32nd.

The three routes that saw the biggest drop – over 90% each – were Teterboro to Montreal (KYUL), which fell from 62 flights to just 1; to Boston (KBOS), dropping to 7 flights from 98, and the reverse route, which fell from 96 to 9 flights over the 17 days.

The biggest upward mover from last year’s 50 busiest private jet routes was Palm Beach (KPBI) to Teterboro, where flights increased from 51 to 75, a 47% jump moving it from 40th place in 2019 to 3rd in 2020.

The only other “route” from 2019’s 50th busiest to see any gain was from KSAV to KSAV, with an increase from 64 to 75 flights. Savannah is the home to private jet manufacturer Gulfstream. The flights represent a combination of testing, maintenance, demo, and training in addition to normal operations, according to Richard Koe, managing director of WingX.

Holding up better than most were several intra-Texas routes. Flights from Dallas Love Field (KDAL) to Austin (KAUS) dipped just 5% from 43 to 41, moving it from 49th to 21st. In the reverse direction, flights declined to 38 from 54, yet still moved up to 24th from 34th busiest.

50 Busiest Private Jet Routes 2019

Airport PairsFlights
1. KBUR-KLAS49161-112-70%
2. KSNA-KLAS59155-96-62%
3. KLAS-KSNA74144-70-49%
3. KLAS-KBUR51144-93-65%
5. KLAS-KVNY47142-95-67%
6. KVNY-KLAS47140-93-66%
7. KTEB-KIAD22132-110-83%
8. KOAK-KBUR33130-97-75%
8. KIAD-KTEB21130-109-84%
10. KBUR-KOAK34122-88-72%
11. KTEB-CYYZ20108-88-81%
12. KBED-KTEB1999-80-81%
13. KTEB-KBOS798-91-93%
14. KTEB-KBED1696-80-83%
14. KBOS-KTEB996-87-91%
16. KICT-KICT2492-68-74%
17. KOAK-KLAS1189-78-88%
18. KLAS-KOAK1588-73-83%
19. KTEB-KHPN2886-58-67%
20. KTEB-KMDW985-76-89%
21. KMDW-KTEB1078-68-87%
22. KHPN-KTEB2877-49-64%
22. KLAX-KLAS1477-63-82%
24. KHOU-KDAL5473-19-26%
25. KDAL-KHOU4670-24-34%
25. KTEB-KOPF4470-26-37%
27. KLAS-KLAX1967-48-72%
28. KOAK-KSNA2365-42-65%
29. KSAV-KSAV75641117%
29. KOPF-KTEB3864-26-41%
31. KSNA-KOAK2962-33-53%
31. KVNY-KOAK2762-35-56%
31. KTEB-CYUL162-61-98%
34. KSAT-KDAL2856-28-50%
34. KVNY-KTEB1556-41-73%
36. KAUS-KDAL3854-16-30%
36. KASE-KAPA3754-17-31%
38. KOAK-KVNY1454-40-74%
39. KTEB-KVNY2653-27-51%
40. KPBI-KTEB75512447%
40. KSNA-KMRY1051-41-80%
42. KTEB-KPDK1350-37-74%
43. KMRY-KSNA1046-36-78%
44. KVNY-KSJC1644-28-64%
44. KLAX-KVNY1544-29-66%
44. KVNY-KLAX1444-30-68%
44. KCCR-KBUR744-37-84%
44. KBOS-KHPN544-39-89%
49. KDAL-KAUS4143-2-5%
49. KBUR-KCCR843-35-81%
Data from WingX for June 1-17 2019 vs. 2020 for Part 135, 91, and 91K private jet flights

The winner of the 50 busiest routes in private aviation’s June rebound (chart below) was Palm Beach to Westchester County (KHPN), which saw a whopping 467% increase in flights, from 21 to 119. That’s an average of seven flights per day, instead of just over one. That increase pushed the route from 204th busiest to the top of the list, according to WingX.

In terms of other routes not yet discussed, Westchester County to Palm Beach saw a 219% gain, moving from a 204th place tie to 5th busiest.

Palm Beach to Francis S. Gabreski Airport (KFOK) on Long Island increased from 13 to 64, a 392% upswing, moving it from 494th place to 6th. Southbound from Teterboro to Palm Beach increased from 34 to 62 flights, moving from 75th to 7th.

Scottsdale (KSDL) to Orange County flights jumped 112%, pushing it from 142nd into the top 10.

50 Busiest Private Jet Routes 2020

Airport PairFlights
1. KPBI-KHPN1192198467%
2. KSAV-KSAV75641117%
2. KPBI-KTEB75512447%
4. KLAS-KSNA74144-70-49%
5. KHPN-KPBI672146219%
6. KPBI-KFOK641351392%
7. KTEB-KPBI62342882%
8. KSNA-KLAS59155-96-62%
9. KHOU-KDAL5473-19-26%
10. KSDL-KSNA532528112%
10. KBRO-MMAN532231141%
12. KLAS-KBUR51144-93-65%
12. KPHF-KPHF511239325%
14. KSNA-KSDL50351543%
15. KBUR-KLAS49161-112-70%
16. KLAS-KVNY47142-95-67%
16. KVNY-KLAS47140-93-66%
18. KDAL-KHOU4670-24-34%
19. KTEB-KOPF4470-26-37%
20. KPBI-KFRG431330231%
21. KDAL-KAUS4143-2-5%
22. KVNY-KSDL391722129%
22. KBCT-KFRG39732457%
24. KOPF-KTEB3864-26-41%
24. KAUS-KDAL3854-16-30%
26. KASE-KAPA3754-17-31%
26. KSNA-KVNY3740-3-8%
26. KLIT-KLIT37271037%
26. KHOU-KASE371621131%
30. KFOK-KTEB3637-1-3%
31. KSDL-KVNY35241146%
32. KBUR-KOAK34122-88-72%
33. KOAK-KBUR33130-97-75%
34. KLAS-KSDL3229310%
34. KFXE-KPBI321517113%
34. KVNY-KASE32725357%
37. KHPN-KIAD3142-11-26%
37. KAPA-KSDL31161594%
39. KVNY-KSNA3036-6-17%
39. KSAN-KSDL3024625%
39. KPBI-KAPF30201050%
39. KOPF-MDJB301317131%
39. KPBI-KBED30822275%
39. KLAX-PANC30030INF%
45. KSNA-KOAK2962-33-53%
45. KOPF-KPBI2922732%
45. KSDL-KAPA29191053%
48. KTEB-KHPN2886-58-67%
48. KHPN-KTEB2877-49-64%
48. KSAT-KDAL2856-28-50%
Data from WingX for June 1-17 2019 vs. 2020 for Part 135, 91, and 91K private jet flights

The shift in traffic helps underscore the critical role business aviation plays. While airlines have cut flights and airports served, private jets enable users to fly from to and from the airports that best serve their needs when they need to go.

The winners and losers list also indicates New York – New Jersey – Connecticut – tristate residents who had decided to wait out the COVID-19 transiting to and from South Florida.

Moving to South Florida

According to CNBC, they liked what they saw. Just yesterday, the business network reported sales contracts for New York apartments priced over $1 million fell by 81% in May. Contracts for apartments priced at more than $5 million slumped by 90%.

At the same time, contracts for million-dollar single-family homes jumped 45% in Miami-Dade County, 26% in Palm Beach County, and 23% for Broward County.

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