Business aviation traffic levels are improving but there is a long way to go to return to pre-crisis levels, according to data analyst WingX Advance, which has been monitoring business aviation traffic throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The figures are stark. Some 2,800 aircraft were active globally on a daily basis during May – roughly 48% of the normal figure. This compares favourably however with commercial airline traffic which remains 85% down. By 26 May, the rolling daily average had climbed to 7,100 global flights – up 87% from the absolute low benchmark in mid-April. The North American market has witnessed the strongest recovery with traffic at 48% of 2019 levels. In Europe traffic remains at just 40% of the previous year, with Asia, at 47%; Africa, at just 50%; South America, at 66%; and Oceana, holding up at 72%.
The improvement in business aircraft traffic is in stark contrast to that of scheduled airlines, which show aircraft movements at just 15% of normal volumes. The reasons for this uplift have been variously attributed to increased charter demand, the lack of available commercial flights and a reluctance to travel through commercial terminals and on airliners during the pandemic. An analysis of the aircraft used indicates that the most robust sector has been the turboprop and piston fleet, with some growth in small jets. The weakest demand remains for large cabin aircraft.