U.S., European Flight Activity Falls 30% In March

Credit: Bombardier

U.S. business aviation flight activity in March fell 30% year-over-year, while flights declined 34% in Europe, falling to nearly 50% during the last few days of the month, according to WingX Advance data. 

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, declines accelerated through the month. U.S. flights decreased modestly during the first half of March. But by March 31, activity was down 66% compared to the same date a year ago, WingX said.

“The abruptness of the decline in business aviation activity this month is only comparable to the effect of the Eyjafjallajakull volcano eruption back in 2010, only with much longer and more severe consequences,” said Richard Koe, WingX Advance managing director. “WingX expects a trough in flight activity in April, which may see some countries completely shut down flights.”

In an optimistic outlook for ending the containment caused by the novel coronavirus, Koe predicts renewed demand for flights by the summer. 

At that point, “business aviation may have a window of opportunity to meet pent-up demand while the airline capacity is still parked,” Koe said.

In Europe, all aircraft segments experienced severe declines, with ultra-long-range jet activity down 40% and super light and very light jet activity down 25%. 

In Europe, Italy was most affected with just more than 1,000 departures during March, 70% below March 2019 activity. Activity in France fell 43%, while flights in Germany and Switzerland were down 30% and flights in the UK declined by 23%. 

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.