Carrying forward from the holiday high, business jets began 2022 on a record New Year demand, reported WingX Advance
Business jets had a relatively relieving sigh as the end of 2021 saw a rise in activity even amid speculations of the new variants of Covid-19 virus. The optimism has managed to continue even in this New Year. The holiday season’s fervour to explore winter destinations seems to be on a continuum. For the first ten days of January 2022, business jets flew 26 per cent more flights than two years ago, on the eve of the pandemic, noted global data management and analysis company, WingX Advance. Compared to January 2019, business jet activity in the beginning of January this year is up 18 per cent. While in comparison to the virus-affected slowdown last year, this year is already up by 38 per cent.
Three weeks into January 2022, global business aviation traffic has surpassed last January by 17 per cent, and is tracking 10 per cent up versus January 2019. Scheduled passenger airlines have operated 29 per cent more flights than in January 2021, but 30 per cent fewer than in January 2020. Since business aviation demand rebounded in mid-2021, flights have exceeded the same pre-pandemic period by 12 per cent. This month’s numbers were boosted by the New Year holiday, flights up 20 per cent on the New Year week in 2019. Things have cooled down since the world went back to work, but even the latest week was the busiest ever for mid-January, up 31 per cent on last year, up nine per cent on 2020 and five per cent higher than in 2019.
NORTH AMERICA NAILS
Despite raising Omicron concerns, North America has come out as the strongest bizjet market, with flights up almost 30 per cent so far. The stellar rebound that the business jet utilisation experienced in 2021 is continuing in the United States(US) even through January, with the first ten days of 2022 seeing flights increase by 31 per cent compared to January 2020. On a rolling 7-day basis, flights were up 45 per cent on January last year, up 30 per cent on January 2019, reported WingX. January 2nd was relatively the high point; business jet holiday makers flew over 7,000 flights on January 2nd 2021, compared to 4,500 sectors on January 2nd in pre-pandemic 2019.
Florida continued the demand as the global hub of business jet travel in 2022, with the traffic going up 21 per cent on analready strong 2021, and 45 per cent ahead of January 2020. It was further interesting to note that international connections are up 47 per cent on last year, domestic flights up 24 per cent. The strongest international connections were with Canada, Mexico, and Bahamas, well up this year compared to last year. International travel suffered last year majorly due to the travel restrictions which are still not entirely open as in the pre-pandemic world but are relatively accessible in certain regions.
EUROPE SKIING TO THE TOP
Europe is also buoyant in bizjets, with sectors up 20 per cent. With its regional airline traffic down almost 50 per cent during the initial days of January compared to 2020, bizjet traffic is running at early 2020 levels, reported WingX.
The ski season which has been known to normally elevate Geneva in the European bizjet ranking, proved no exception this January. Compared to January 2021, business jet departures from Geneva are up 91 per cent this year, and up 29 per cent versus January 2020.
Three weeks into January 2022, global business aviation traffic has surpassed last January by 17 per cent, and is tracking 10 per cent up versus January 2019
Business jet demand in Europe powered ahead in January 2022, going up 53 per cent on January last year, and up 16 per cent on January 2020. International traffic rebounded on last year’s lows, with sectors up by 69 per cent as the most severe cross-border restrictions are lifted. Even in comparison to January 2019, international flights are up 16 per cent. France has emerged as the busiest European market, witnessing 25 per cent up domestic flights on last year. The busiest international connection is from Switzerland to the UK, with almost four times as many flights as January last year. The UK has seen a strong recovery from the rut of January 2021, with outbound bizjet flights up by 87 per cent. In Europe, the Omicron wave and associated lockdowns did slow flight activity in some countries towards the latter part of January but those trends were relative to January 2020; compared to January 2021, the traffic volumes are up. Overall, the European region is seeing 13 per cent more activity in January 2022 versus January 2020, with strongest growth in Spain, Russia, Turkey, Sweden.
Busiest airports in the UK saw a strong comeback, with Farnborough seeing 339 business jet departures in January, more than double the traffic last year. Biggin Hill traffic is up 140 per cent on last year, which is rebounding well above pre-pandemic levels, flights up 40 per cent on January 2020.
Outside Europe and the US, the busiest business jet markets include Canada, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey, UAE, and Colombia. Most of these markets are ahead of where they were last year. UAE, where business jet traffic is still way ahead of pre-pandemic, but slightly down vs January 2021. Business jet departures from the Maldives are 78 per cent up on two years ago but almost 50 per cent lower in January year on year.
GROWTH ROUTES TOWARDS AIRCRAFT OWNERS
However, WingX also noted that towards the end of January, the growth in business jet flights saw a shift towards aircraft owners. The growth in business aviation activity has moderated in 2022, but is still at a record high, and well ahead of January 2021. Stronger growth may resume as Omicron dissipates, although there are increasing risks in the macroeconomic and geopolitical environment which could easily undermine flight demand in the next few months.
Compared to January 2021, business jet departures from Geneva are up 91 per cent this year, and up 29 per cent versus January 2020; adding to the buoyant Europe
Midway into January 2022, just over 200,000 business aviation sectors flown globally, 25 per cent more than in January 2021, and 16 per cent more than in January 2020. The impetus now appears to be coming from aircraft owners, with private and corporate flight departments flying 21 per cent more than January two years ago, the report highlighted. Charter and Fractional operators are still flying at record highs, but with growth moderating compared to the end of last year.
There is clear evidence of a shift in the recovery toward owned and managed aircraft even in the US, with these operators flying respectively 24 per cent and 32 per cent more than two years ago. Florida has been the departure point for more than 10 per cent of all business jets and turboprops this January, with outbound flight hours trending 51 per cent higher than January two years ago. Business aviation departures from Florida to Bahamas are up 45 per cent, to Canada, up 15 per cent, to Dominican Republic, up by 64 per cent.
The leisure demand had a further boost in the flight activity during the Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr Day holiday. There were 23,171 business jet sectors flown between 14th and 17th January 2022, compared to 18,410; 20,609, and 20,897 flights during the previous years’ holidays, marking this year’s activity as a record high point.
The growth trend for the European region in Q421 compared to Q419 was 24 per cent. The trend varies significantly across cabin size, with Midsize and Very Light Jets operations up more than 25 per cent, whereas Heavy and Ultra-Long Jet activity is back to 2019 levels.
Outside the US and Europe, there have been 20,000 business jet sectors flown in the first half of January, trending up by 7.5 per cent compared to January 2020. The emphasis remained on midsize and light jet demand, with longest-range jets flying less than prepandemic. Mexico has shown the strongest recovery in the last six months, with early January maintaining a growth trend versus 2019.