After a big August, private jet flights in Europe see September drop

By Doug Gollan, September 24, 2020

August private aviation flights in Europe were up 3% year-over-year, but with more lockdowns and the end of summer vacation travel, flight activity is dropping, according to WingX

Private aviation in Europe is seeing a September swoon, according to the latest weekly tracking report from WingX, an aviation consultancy. After Europe beat 2019 numbers in August, France, a major market, saw a 15% decline in private jet and prop flights month-to-date.

Flight activity in Germany is down by 8% year-over-year, down 13% in terms of flight hours. The UK and Spain are worst impacted so far this month. Both countries seeing more than 20% declines in flight activity compared to the same September period last year.

It’s not all bad news. Russia, Turkey, Austria, and Sweden have YOY growth in flights this month. Business jet flights out of Croatia are 7% higher this month than in September 2019, and from Portugal, up 3%.

Private jet charter demand is relatively resilient, this activity down 5% year-over-year across Europe, and higher in Germany and Switzerland than for the same period in September last year.

Key airports for private aviation, including Paris Le Bourget, London Luton, London Farnborough, and Nice are all seeing at least 25% deficits compared to the same period last year. London Biggin Hill and Zurich are flat.

Meanwhile, Vienna is seeing some YOY growth, and there is a month-long surge in activity out of Moscow Vnukovo, Olbia, Munich, Istanbul Ataturk, and Athens, all well above 2019 levels.

Routes with the biggest growth this month include Vnukovo-Riga-Pulkovo, Bodrum-Ataturk-Dalaman, Vnukovo-Nice, and Cannes-Le Bourget. The biggest declines so far are between Geneva, Le Bourget, Nice, and Farnborough. Nearly all flights (97%) from Europe stayed in Europe, with interregional connections seeing steep declines. Transatlantic flights from Europe to North America are trending down by over 60% in September.

WingX managing director Richard Koe noted, “The unwinding of the late summer recovery is underway, with the absence of the business traveler unsurprising given that governments and corporations are requesting employees to work from home.”

He added, “Wherever the virus second wave concerns are strongest, all travel demand including business aviation is weakest, the UK and Spain most notable examples this month. The bright spot for the business aviation sector is that charter demand is relatively resilient and is clearly representing a larger share of activity than before the pandemic.”

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