While still at sluggish levels, business aviation traffic has marked its third consecutive month of year-over-year growth in Europe and is now up five out of the last six months.
Citing Eurocontrol figures, the European Business Aviation Association notes that traffic has improved "but only just." In the U.S., meanwhile, traffic continues to strengthen, according to Argus. The researcher reports that traffic was up 1.9% in May.
European Operations were up 0.1% in May over the same month in 2013. They were up 0.45% in April and 0.7% in March. The only decline in the past six months came in February, down 0.9% in Europe.
The growth has come from intra-European operations. The "internal" operations were up 0.3% in May, 1.1% in April and 1.6% in March. This has offset declines in arrivals and departures overall (which include operations to and from outside Europe) over the past three months. Eurocontrol’s handling of overflights, meanwhile, has dropped more notably in the past three months, down 0.6% in May following a 5% and 6.3% decline in April and March, respectively.
The recent gains in European internal operations mark an improvement over the past year. Over the past 12 months, internal operations were down 1%. Likewise, overflights were down 1.4% over the past year. But both arrivals and departures were up. Total traffic in the last 12 months is down 0.7%.
U.S. traffic was up across all business jet categories with small jets leading the increase at 4.7%., followed by large-cabin activity at 4.3%. Mid-cabins were also up 1.9%. Turboprop flights, however, were down 1.6%.
While charter flights have been a driver in U.S. traffic gains in the past year, and were up again in May, Part 91 operations led the improvements in May, up 2.3%. Charters increased 1.9%. Fractional operations were up just 0.2%, but that is still reflecting the demise of the Piaggio pusher-prop operator Avantair.
Fractional jet operations were all up significantly again in May, with small cabin operations up 30.6% and large cabin up 8.1%. Midsize jet fractional operations were up too – by 2.6%.
Predictably, though, fractional turboprop operations were down 45.1% in May.