Global business aviation activity in early April began at levels more than double from those a year ago, WingX reported. While not a surprise given the phases of the pandemic now and a year ago, as well as the fact that Easter was earlier this year, the results from the seven-day rolling trend at the beginning of the month confirmed “a big improvement,” it said.
Easter Day marked 11,992 flights this year, just six percent shy of the 12,700 flown on the holiday in April 2019 and significantly greater than the 4,000 flown a year ago, according to WingX.
Business aviation activity continues to remain at healthier levels than the scheduled airlines, which saw flights at levels 40 percent below those of Easter 2019 even as they were 140 percent above last year’s holiday. Since the beginning of 2021, business aviation traffic is up 5 percent versus the same period in 2020, while scheduled airline activity is down 39 percent.
Business jet movements reached their highest level since the onset of the pandemic on March 27, marking 8,571 daily flights. That approached the 2020 peak day of 8,699.
WingX called the U.S. recovery the “most impressive” and said it is driving the global rebound with daily activity trending above 6,100 fliughts in the past week, while Europe lagged at 1,000 daily flights.
Business jet hours in the U.S. are up 15 percent year-to-date from a year ago, with branded charter flights up 20 percent. Teterboro Airport in New Jersey has seen traffic pick up but still has not regained the top spot. That distinction has gone to West Palm Beach, Florida, where movements have totaled 30,000, up 56 percent from last year. Texas is marking the second-busiest state in the U.S., with usage there at the highest levels since 2018.
In Europe, the UK is seeing the sharpest declines in flight activity, down 40 percent from Easter 2019 and seeing a 55 percent drop in business jet flights year-over-year since the beginning of the year. Spain and Italy saw 5 percent gains, but France and Germany are still 10 percent below so far this year.
“Through the lens of the U.S. market, business aviation has rebounded faster and fuller than most optimistic predictions last year, with activity fast approaching 2019 levels, matching the frenetic pace of business jet transactions,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “In contrast, the European market is sluggish, with the UK’s inactivity suggesting that regional recovery in travel demand will not automatically result from successful vaccination programs.”