Business aviation operations are continuing to increase slowly worldwide, improvements that come as flights involving the oil and gas and consumer goods industries picked up notably in the third quarter, according to hourly-cost maintenance specialist Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI).
That improvement appears to be continuing early into the fourth quarter as business aviation flights in just the U.S. and Canada in October reached their highest levels since 2008, reports business aviation industry safety expert and analyst Argus.
JSSI, which recently released its third-quarter Business Aviation Index, reports 2% year-over-year global growth in flight hours it tracked in the third quarter. Flight hours were up 1% over the second quarter.
Most regions showed improvements in year-over-year business aviation flight hours except Asia/Australia, which has fluctuated this year. Asia/Australia was down 2% year-over-year, but up 29% from the second quarter. Second-quarter operations in the region plunged 13% from the first quarter and by 23% year-over-year.
But other regions are showing more steady improvements, particularly in the Middle East/Africa and Europe, which has struggled in recent years. Both Europe and Middle East/Africa have shown 14% quarter-over-quarter gains. Europe flights tracked by JSSI were up 14% year-over-year, while Middle East/Africa flights were up 5%. Latin America was up 1%, while the U.S. was up 4% year-over-year in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter has started to improve on those gains in the U.S. and Canada, according to Argus, which tracks business aircraft IFR flights in the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, and Canada. “Business Jet flying pushes October to highest flight activity levels since 2008,” Argus reports, noting flights overall were up 8.6% over September and 1.8% over October 2012.
Part 135 operations, which have strengthened throughout the year, continued to build on that trend, up 7.3% over September and 9.9% over October 2012. Part 91 flights, however, marked the largest monthly gain, up 9.4%. But Part 91 flights are still down 0.4% from 2012.
JSSI also follows flight hours by industry, finding strong year-over-year growth in consumer goods (26%) and power and energy (29%). These improvements offset year-over-year flight hours involving the manufacturing sector (-27%), alone with automotive (-16%) and technology (-14%). Flights involving the real estate sector, however, are up 11%.
The flight hours demonstrate the strength – and in some cases the weaknesses – of key industries, JSSI notes, citing the gains made in the power and energy sector, stemming from the boom in production of oil and gas from shale through fracking.
“The bottom line is that when businesses are flying, they’re not only demonstrating their own fiscal health, but they are also contributing to the world economy in comparison to other major international industries,” says JSSI President and CEO Neil Book.