7:01 AM, September 27, 2023

North America business aviation demand recovers while Europe slumps

| The European | 5 March 2021

North America is seeing a much stronger recovery with business aviation activity back within 10% of pre-pandemic levels while Europe continues to suffer, WINGX’s weekly Global Market Tracker shows

The US is seeing ‘solid trends’ in business aviation traffic with 445,000 sectors flown in 2021 – just 7% down on last year. The charter market is particularly strong recording a 4% rise in flight hours and a marginal 1% drop in departures.

In contrast the European area is suffering the heaviest declines with total activity down 70% and while business aviation activity is more robust it is still 25% down. One bright spot is Eastern Europe with Russia seeing strong domestic growth.

Globally, the busiest business jet in February 2020 was the Challenger 300/350. The Nextant flew 8% more sectors than in Feb-20.

The relative health of business aviation contrasts with other sectors – global fixed wing activity is trending down by 43% so far in 2021, with scheduled airline operations down by 52%, cargo operations up by 10% and business aviation activity trending towards 85% of normal levels.

Richard Koe, Managing Director of WINGX Advance, comments: “The US is starting to see an accelerated recovery from the winter pandemic, with both scheduled and business aviation activity opening up, and charter activity setting some new records, especially in Florida. It’s a different story in Europe, with a long road to run, and international leisure trips all but illegal. This slowdown is very clear in Western Europe, with contrasting openness to the East, business jets being used more than ever within Russia.”


Florida continues to be the US hub for business jet movements with 16% growth in activity this year and more than 20% growth in charter departures. February has continued to be strong, with 29,000 flights operated which is 15% up on the same month last year.

California is the second busiest State for business jet traffic, with travel restrictions frustrating recovery and flight sectors down 11%. Demand in Texas bounced back in the last week of the month after taking a nosedive during the freeze with flights trending 7% down for February.

Colorado, the perennial powerhouse of business jet demand during the pandemic, added 14% in flight activity in February while Arizona continues to attract more business jet demand than ever and is 5% up on last year. New Jersey looks to be the last State to recover, with flights still lagging 40%. In contrast, New York is flat, with strong growth back and forth with Florida.


Europe’s long road to recovery in business jet usage has been held back by prolonged lockdown which is complicating any cross-border travel and the slide back into double-dip economic recession means the prospects look bleak for at least the first half of 2021.

The last week has seen a 34% dip in YOY business jet activity, with Government activity one of the few resilient sectors. The UK is almost two-thirds down on last year while the core Eurozone countries have all seen business jet movements drop at least a third in the second half of February compared to same period last year.

However, demand continues to be stronger than ever for flights in Russia and Turkey from mainly domestic activity. There is a clear contrast between Western and Eastern Europe, with the latter seeing growth in business jet activity in Ukraine, Romania, Latvia, Croatia, and Albania.

Rest of the world 

The strongest business jet market is Mexico, which has seen a relatively strong recovery with flights down by 15% in February. Domestic activity is stalling at 33% below normal, but connections with the US and the Bahamas are well up.

Nigeria and China continue to see strong growth in domestic use of business jets with the busiest connections in China between Hainan, Beijing, and Shenzhen, and in Nigeria between Abuja and Lagos.

Brazil has seen growth this year, internationally with Angola, and domestically with strong growth between Porto Seguro and Congonhas. However, the cancellation of this year’s Carnival saw a sharp drop in mid-month traffic compared to last year.

Further information


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