In U.S., Europe, business aviation faces diverging paths in 2023

For business aviation, Europe may fall back to 2019 levels as the U.S. holds onto some of its Covid gains, according to WingX.

By Doug Gollan, January 4, 2023

For business aviation, Europe may fall back to 2019 levels as the U.S. holds onto some of its Covid gains, according to WingX

Business aviation activity faces a fork in the road in 2023, with the U.S. and Europe set to take different paths.

Despite its downward month-to-month trend for the last six months in Europe, where demand may fall back to 2019 levels next year, the erosion from peak demand in the U.S. has been more modest, and the market should sustain higher than pre-pandemic activity during 2019, according to WingX Managing Director Richard Koe.

Looking ahead, he says, “The last few months have seen the post-covid bounce in business jet demand fall away, and in Europe this winter, we are starting to see lower activity levels than in 2019. The recessionary outlook for the economy is likely to bake this decline into 2023. The U.S. market looks more resilient, with modest declines compared to last year, edging the market towards a trajectory of 5%-10% gains over 2019 during 2023.”

Research with subscribers of Private Jet Card Comparisons shows new since Covid flyers continuing to fly privately (94%). However, the percentage will use private jets on a regular basis dropped from 57% to 40% from 2021 to 2022.

With 5,539,610 departures, business aviation made up 17% of overall flights globally in 2022, compared to 23,137 scheduled airline flights, or 71%. Cargo and other operations made up the remainder. Airline volume remained at 24.4% below 2019 compared to business aviation’s 14.4% gain.

North America 2022 business aviation highlights

According to WingX data, for the full year 2022, 2.8 million business jet sectors were operated in North America, up 11% compared to 2021, 65% above 2020, and 18% above 2019.

Despite 29% growth in flights compared to 2019, branded charter operators flew 2% fewer flights during the full year 2022 compared to 2021.

Aircraft management and fractional fleets modestly increased on 2021’s activity, with most of the year-over-year growth coming from corporate flight departments, which represented some 40% of all business jet activity.

Teterboro was the top-ranked private jet airport in 2022. Flights were 22% above 2021, although 1% below 2019.

The next busiest airport was Palm Beach, with a 10% growth in business aviation traffic compared to 2021 and 65% more flights than in 2019.

Light jets flew the most flights in 2022, with activity up 7% compared to 2021, 18% above 2019.

Midsize and Entry Level jets saw single-digit growth compared to 2021.

Ultra-long-range jets saw the largest rebound compared to 2021, and ULR flights in 2022 trended 36% above pre-Covid 2019 as borders reopened and Covid restrictions were dropped.

Europe 2022 business aviation highlights

Six hundred thousand business jet flights were flown in 2022 in Europe, 10% above 2021, 56% above 2020, and 15% above 2019.

July was the busiest month of the year when flight activity soared 23% above 2019.

Private flight departments saw the largest gains in flight activity in 2022 compared to three years ago, with flights up 63%.

Fractional and Branded Charter operations in Europe also saw double-digit gains compared to three years ago.

Despite government efforts to curb private jet flights, France was the busiest private aviation market in Europe in 2022.

The UK and Germany followed it.

Key markets saw double-digit growth during 2022 compared to 2021, notably France, UK, Italy & Switzerland.

Despite 26% growth compared to 2019, Greece saw sectors drop 7% compared to 2021.

Private aviation departures from Russia fell almost 60% compared to 2021, 46% fewer than in 2019.

At the airport level, Le Bourget was the busiest airport, with flights up 25% compared to 2021 and 18% up on 2019.

Despite the strong growth during 2022, European bizjet activity has declined compared to 2019 in each of the last six months. As an example, Europe’s December private aviation traffic dropped 9% compared to December 2021, only 5% ahead of December 2019.

Rest-of-the-World 2022 private aviation highlights

Outside of North America and Europe, bizjet activity in 2022 was 20% above 2021, 74% above 2020, and 54% above 2019.

Private Flight departments were responsible for 41% of all departures in the rest-of-the-world region in 2022, sectors up 29% compared to 2021, 86% above 2019.

Heavy jets flew almost 56,000 flights in 2022, making them the top aircraft segment. All aircraft segments saw double-digit growth compared to previous years.

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