Business jet traffic continues to remain flat with gains of one month offset by declines in the next, according to FAA’s most recent business jet traffic reports.

In the first six months of the year, business jet operations – domestically and internationally – have ranged from the low- to mid-300,000s, still well below peak traffic levels in 2004-2007, when monthly averages hovered near 400,000. But they are still up from the trough in the first six months of 2009, when monthly business jet traffic remained below 300,000 operations.

Industry analyst JetNet notes the steady improvement in traffic in the U.S. since the bottom in February. But operations were relatively unchanged “in spite of the recent decrease in fuel prices,” JetNet says.

Traffic trends have been closely followed by analysts and original manufacturers alike because they are viewed as key indicators of the overall health of the industry, demand for aircraft and likelihood of the need for aftermarket services.

In June, initial data reveals that business jet operations fell .77% to 327,400 operations (this likely will increase some when final numbers are totaled). But it continues the up-and-down trend, with gains in May following declines in March and April and gains in January and February.

Morgan Stanley Research’s Heidi Wood notes the most recent decline “is consistent with both volatility in the market and recent company commentary of a sluggish recover in business jet orders.”

June traffic in particular appeared to follow the general trends of the business jet market – light jet operations “continue to underperform,” Wood says, noting Cessna operations fell 3.8% year over year. At the same time, large-cabin Gulfstream and Bombardier operations posted slight gains.

Wood predicts that traffic will remain flat, with maybe modest increases in upcoming months. This may help with a modest recovery for Cessna this year, but Gulfstream should climb this year thanks to the ramp-up in G650 deliveries, she adds.