Business jets have completed nearly 2.4 million flights globally thus far this year, confirming a “complete recovery from pandemic lows” and tracking ahead of 2019, according to the latest WingX report. Traffic in the sector has eclipsed pre-pandemic tallies since May 2021 and is further poised to get a boost as transatlantic flights return.
In the first three weeks of September, business jet flights are up 15 percent over the comparable period in 2019. By contrast, commercial airline traffic is still down 41 percent year-to-date from 2019. Airline traffic is up only 20 percent from 2020 levels this year, although it did have a 47 percent bounce this month, according to WingX.
Business jet transatlantic flights, still facing numerous restrictions, have been slow to rebound, still down 25 percent through the first nine months of 2021 when compared with 2019. But that is set to change as the U.S. softens restrictions on inbound passengers from Europe, WingX said.
Some international connections have improved. Business aircraft flights from Europe to Asia are only down 2 percent this year from 2019 levels and U.S. flights to the Caribbean are up by a percentage point.
U.S. domestic business jet hours are up by more than 15 percent from September 2019, with airports in Denver, Dallas, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and West Palm Beach showing signs of growth. More than 20,000 business aircraft have been active in September, each averaging 44 hours of utilization month-to-date, WingX reported.
Europe, meanwhile, is enjoying a late summer recovery, with business aviation activity in September up by more than 25 percent from September 2019. The UK is up 11 percent from pre-pandemic September but is still lagging other parts of Western Europe, where demand is up more than 20 percent in France and more than 30 percent in Italy, Germany, and Austria. Arrivals into Greece have soared 60 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
“The European recovery is picking up rather than tapering and the U.S. domestic market is still breaking pre-pandemic records,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Given that the holiday season is ending, this sustained growth may hint at a return of the corporate customer, especially as airline recovery is slow and tenuous. International connections are also starting to recover faster.”