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  July 26th, 2023 | Written by

What’s the Data Behind Private Aviation’s Return to Normality?

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BitLux CEO Kyle Patel recaps what the data is showing today as the industry prepares for the upcoming months regarding flight activity, demand, and availability.

After the global pandemic prompted a dramatic increase in demand for private jet travel, the industry is now experiencing a healthier level of activity which is expected to yield a more sustainable future for the business aviation sector. Industry experts appear to be united by the sentiment that such a shift will allow for a healthy period of correction coupled with an opportunity for recalibration. Overall activity is expected to continue trending higher than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 even as the industry is faced with ongoing complexities surrounding supply chain disruptions and cost increases.   

Earlier this year, Argus TraqPak anticipated total flight activity in 2023 would remain above pre-pandemic levels and that prediction has continued to hold steady as we approach the second financial semester. The company forecasted total 2023 private jet activity in the United States to remain 14.4 percent higher than 2019, but one percent lower than 2022 levels. Argus TraqPak’s 2023 report further outlined expectations for a minor drop in activity in July, followed by positive activity in August, October, November, and December of this year.

While recent reports from Argus TraqPak indicated a 3.5 percent decrease in private jet activity within North America in May compared to 2022, the decline appears to be following expected trends that support an approach toward stabilization. Argus projects a less than one percent decline in activity for June in North America. The third quarter is expected to bring additional metrics supportive of activity resting higher than pre-pandemic levels.

WingX Advance data has also suggested business aviation demand levels that continue to soar above 2019 numbers. In May of this year, WingX Advance reported a year-on-year deficit that was beginning to narrow as we exited Spring. This narrowing deficit supported the consensus that Q1 of 2022 was an outlier period for private jet activity. 

In June of this year, WingX Advance reported growth in private flight departments and fractional program activity compared to last year. The company noted reports of strong charter bookings for this summer, aligned with what we have registered at BitLux, but also highlighted the potential for those bookings to be impacted by macroeconomic challenges.

Aircraft availability and deliveries

Business aviation flight activity is undoubtedly impacted by aircraft availability and a recent Q2 update from Vref provided a market trend report with insight surrounding the challenges currently facing aircraft inventory markets. The report discussed the shift away from skyrocketing values set during the pandemic and the resulting current trend back toward a correction point in the market as sellers search for buyers. While aircraft sales have slowed down, they are still taking place with many of the transactions completed with cash and plans to refinance at a future date. 

According to the Vref report, the aircraft type and region play a direct role in the resilience of the market and previously favored aircraft models have reached a doubling in availability which favors a direction leading toward normalized market ranges. Vref expects the current correction territory and a forecasted slower-than-normal summer to likely lead to the onset of what could become a series of price reductions.

Many business jet models including the Cirrus Vision Jet, Citation X, Phenom 100, Phenom 300, and other jets have experienced corrections while sellers try to attract buyers. Vref chronicled the most notable correction which has been observed in super-midsize and large-cabin jets. The preowned aircraft included in that correction are older than 15 years, have now surpassed nine percent availability, and have reached their highest inventory level since 2019. 

The upcoming delivery of the Gulfstream G700 is expected to further stress the market as Vref anticipates an increase in 550 and 650s being brought to market. As we head into the second financial semester, the next six months will provide a continued testing ground for the projections associated with aircraft inventory levels, flight activity, and the business aviation market’s overall ability to adjust to a new normal.

In a nutshell, at BitLux we believe that overall private jet demand based on the previous data should remain constant, back to pre-Covid levels especially on the U.S. domestic side, although a bit above the curve regarding international travel thanks to the continued inconsistencies of commercial aviation and an influx of long-range private jets to the market.

BitLux delivers various services across the air charter industry, but Executive Travel is closest to heart. Whether you are flying for business or leisure, BitLux provides a top-tier private jet service that actively exceeds expectations.