Global private jet travel has rebounded to 80% of pre-COVID-19 levels in July

By Doug Gollan, July 30, 2020

Despite the increase from 70% to 80% of 2019 activity from June to July, the U.S. recovery is hitting headwinds due to Coronavirus related closures

In the world of private aviation or business aviation, as it is often called, most veterans will tell you, “If things are going great, wait a day or two.”

That may or may not be the case, however, aviation analyst WingX says as Europe’s rebound is getting more pronounced, the U.S. is hitting headwinds.

Global business aviation traffic has lost over 86,000 sectors so far in July compared to the same period July 2019, which equates to a 20% decline, an improvement on the 30% deficit year-over-year in June.

Still, WingX managing director Richard Koe points out it’s “a step backward from mid-July when activity was approaching 85% of last year’s volumes.”

U.S. private jet travel recovery stalls

The reversal is driven by a U.S. decline in its Global Market Tracker 7-day average daily activity. Daily volume, Koe said dropped from 7,300 segments at the start of the month to around 6,800 in recent days.

The declines are weighted towards weekdays, down by 25%, compared to weekends, where flying is more robust. For North America as a whole, the July activity trend is minus 23% month-to-date. That includes softening activity in Canada and Mexico.

New York activity, where there is now a 14-day quarantine requirement, is down by a third. Flights at Westchester County Airport, just north of New York City, is down 40% down for the month. Across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Teterboro Airport is down 60%. Last year the two airports ranked first and third as busiest U.S. airports for private aviation flights.

According to WingX, flights from Florida and Arizona were up by 1%. Palm Beach International (PBI) saw a gain of 20%. Aspen had an 18% jump this month compared to last year. Denver and Salt Lake City were only 2% down. Van Nuys, the third busiest airport for private jets last year, was within 6% of pre-COVID-19 levels this month.

Strong private jet rebound in Europe

The European market continues to see a stronger recovery in July. Flight activity now only 14% down for the month, and just 6% down in the last seven days.

Germany is just 2.5% below normal for July, Switzerland is running equal to 2019. Austria, Belgium, and Croatia are seeing more flights this month than in July 2019, Koe says.

Spain has shown the strongest recovery this month. The domestic market with 40% of its traffic is seeing 10% growth. Mallorca’s flights are up 22% and Ibiza is only 8% under par this month. U.K. visits to Spain are up 12%, arrivals from Switzerland up 29%, and 40% from Germany. 40% growth.

However, as mentioned, what you see today might not what you see next week. Speaking of the Iberian peninsula, Koe says, “This picture may change in the next week, following the re-imposition of U.K. quarantine on travelers to Spain.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Nice flights recovered to 83% of normal. However, Paris Le Bourget is still trailing in 2019 numbers by 31%. Geneva flat YOY and Zurich just minus 1.5%. The Russian market is 8% below normal.

U.K., Italy, and Greece are lagging. Leisure destinations like Olbia are down by 25%. The UK´s busiest airport, Farnborough, which serves London, is down 40%. London Biggin Hill has taken the second spot from Luton with flights at 94% of normal. Arrivals into Greece are down 35% with top tourist spots like Mykonos seeing 50% fewer private jet visits.

Asia and Oceania private jet flights in July

Asia’s private jet flight activity is at 85% of normal. Oceania’s bizav flying is at 95% compared to last year’s level. China’s ss activity is 10% off of 2019. Elsewhere, recorded bizav activity in Brazil and Columbia are up year-over-year. The U.A.E. has seen a 17% increase in flight activity this month, but Saudi Arabia is down 40%.

Koe adds, “The recovery in business aviation activity has taken a knock as travel restrictions persist, but the sector is still showing much more resilience than the scheduled sector.”

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