December Global BizJet Activity Up, But Stats Vary With New Outbreak

Van Nuys Airport, California
Credit: Nigel Prevett/Aviation Week

During the first two weeks of December, global business jet activity increased 10% compared to the same period in 2019, with 135,000 sectors. However, demand varied geographically because of renewed travel restrictions due to the omicron COVID variant, according to WingX Advance.

And while business jet activity rose globally, flights by scheduled airlines declined by 30% and cargo operations rose 8%.

So far for all of 2021, private jet flights are up 6% compared to the same months in 2019, while scheduled airline operations are down 38%.

North America accounted for 77% of all business jet flights in 2021, with 90% originating in the U.S. Most of the activity is from private and corporate flight departments, with flying up 10% in December compared to 2019. Flights by aircraft management companies rose 12% over the same period, while  those by fractional ownership operators grew 16% and branded charter flights increased 7%. To date in 2021, branded charter operations are up 18% compared to 2019.

Business jet activity at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, the busiest regional airport in the U.S., is trailing 2019 activity by 20%, reflecting a decline in international traffic, although December activity there is down only 1% compared to December 2019, according to WingX data.

By comparison, total activity at West Palm Beach and Miami-Opa Locka airports in Florida during 2021 has risen 40% over 2019.

Demand, however, is beginning to “dry up” in the U.S. in  where mobility restrictions are returning such as New York and New Jersey, according to Richard Koe, WingX Advance managing director.

The trend in Europe depends upon the region, with departures in France up 47% compared to 2020 and 12% over December 2019. Business jet arrivals in Spain have risen 28%, with activity in Sweden climbing 40% in the first half of December.

On the other hand, the UK, in the center of the omicron outbreak, has experienced a slump in business jet activity of 13% in December compared to 2019 figures, after rising 30% in November. Activity in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway is down slightly in December.

Flights in Canada have been down 9% from 2019, while Chinese activity declined 10%. Operations in Mexico are recovering, while they are up 40% in India and Saudi Arabia compared to December 2019 and up more than 50% in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.