Private aviation charter flights in North America are up 10% year-to-date compared to 2019 – and 50% against covid-impacted 2020, according to WingX. In addition, airports in Florida are up 40% in June, compared to 2019.
“The resurgence of all business aviation activity in the U.S. in the last six weeks has been remarkable,” says WingX managing director Richard Koe. The growth comes at the same time as airlines are seeing a rebound.
Some speculated as vaccinations expanded and airlines restored flights, private aviation’s recovery could stagnate. However, that no longer seems likely. “With business travel starting to come back, we would expect a V-shaped recovery to continue in 2021,” Koe says.
Data from Tuvoli, a platform that streamlines payments between charter brokers and operators, shows that travel to and from “second-home” destinations continues to drive the market.
For example, private flights during 2021 at Teterboro Airport, gateway to New York City, remain 30% below 2019 pre-covid levels, including a 26% decline so far in June. Private flights at Chicago’s Midway Airport are down 30% YTD and 32% MTD. Boston Logan private jet flights are off 41% YTD and 36% MTD. At Van Nuys, the busiest private aviation airport serving Los Angeles, flights are only up 1.8% YTD, although so far in June, they are 24.2% ahead of 2019 levels.
It’s a different story at airports serving second-home markets. Compared to 2019, Opa Locka Executive Airport, convenient to the high-end residential areas in Aventura and Bal Harbor, has seen flights 51% ahead of 2019 year-to-date. During a period that private jet flights to Florida would normally dip, private flights are 86% up for June compared to the pre-covid levels of 2019.
|Airport||Month-to-Date vs. 2019|
|Year-to-Date vs. 2019|
|Bandon Dunes (KOTH)||37.50%||11.50%|
|Fort Lauderdale Int’l (KFLL)||40.10%||5.40%|
|Fort Lauderdale Exec (KFXE)||44.50%||12.20%|
|Jackson Hole (KJAC)||61.80%||49.30%|
|Miami – Opa Locka (KOPF)||86.10%||50.90%|
|Naples Muni. (KAPF)||68.60%||37.30%|
|Vail Eagle (KEGE)||32.30%||27.70%|
|West Hampton (KFOK)||93.30%||131.20%|
|West Palm Beach (KPBI)||75.70%||41.30%|
Those airports are not alone. Palm Beach International Airport has seen 41% growth in private flights year-to-date, and in June, when many residents would have already moved north, flights so far are 76% ahead of pre-covid 2019. On the West Coast of the Sunshine States, flights at Naples Municipal Airport are 37% ahead of 2019 numbers and for the month have spiked 69% in June.
Airports serving popular mountain home destinations such as Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Vail are seeing year-to-date gains ranging from 27% to 49% (see chart above).
Scottsdale flights are up 36% for the year, and as temperature reach triple digits, flights are up 69% so far this month.
While New Yorkers may still be avoiding the city, they are spending some of their time not too far away. At West Hampton’s Francis S. Gabreski Airport, flights in June are up 93%. However, that’s below the 131% year-to-date increase.
While one aircraft broker predicts charter rates could climb as much as 20%, an analysis of jet card rates last month by Private Jet Card Comparisons shows pricing is flat compared to December 2019, with hourly rates down in five of seven categories. Only turboprops (+ 0.89%) and light jets (+ 0.74%) are up. Jet cards typically offer rate locks of at least 12 months, so that could change. NetJets has already announced prices will increase 2% to 8% on July 1, and several others have bumped prices as well. Some brokers are advising clients to book in advance for peak days.