September 29 2020
Events in past few months have forced us all to pause, in some cases change our mindsets and adapt to new ways of conducting business. Undoubtedly, the aviation industry has been among the most severely affected industries by the pandemic and the extended slowdown of critical markets.
In recent weeks, the aviation sector as a whole has welcomed nascent signs of recovery with daily flights increasing by about 30% between the low point at the end of April through to the end of May. Though the rise is primarily in domestic operations, it suggests the industry may have left the worst of the crisis behind, provided there is not a severe resurgence of the pandemic. While experts along with industry bodies predict a slow recovery of commercial aviation, a thought-provoking conversation relating to business aviation is brewing.
It is believed the Business Aviation segment will be first in line with regards to recovery. According to figures from WingX, Business Aviation activity has steadily improved since mid-April. From its low point of 3,600 flights a day, to over 5,200 flights by the end of May, which is a more than 40% improvement. The busiest regions, showing the most positive signs of recovery, are the USA and Canada, followed by Australia, with activity in Europe improving at a slower pace.
Business Aviation, particularly in North America, may see an increase in interest given the crucial roles it serves and an overall increase in awareness of the benefits of Business Aviation as safer means of transport. It has shown pockets of resilience throughout the crisis. Business Aviation continues to provide essential services to communities such as the transportation of health workers, repatriations and critical medical supplies. Business Aviation operations are characteristically agile, adaptable and secure.
In the US, an increasingly active region for HADID, in terms of Business Aviation operations, air charter travel sharply increased in February and March as airlines moved to slash schedules. However, with widespread stay-at-home orders taking effect in April, a number of charter operators saw a subsequent sharp decline in business. With the easing of restrictions, the volume of traffic will be observed with great interest. The “green shoots” of aviation recovery appear to be more evident in the US and being led primarily by light jets and turboprops.
In Europe, as elsewhere, aviation as a whole has been severely impacted with commercial airlines grounding entire fleets and adopting mass layoffs, while some were forced into administration. Interestingly, Business Aviation appears to have been less significantly affected. Often regarded as a superfluous mode of transport accessible only by the elite, Business Aviation has facilitated 40% of air traffic in Europe, in contrast to the 8% it would normally account for. The pandemic has driven an increase in awareness about the different facets of Business Aviation and boosted solidarity within the sector. Moreover, organisations and individuals are looking to Business Aviation for a higher sense of safety and service efficiency. The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has urged policy makers to: “Consider the unique nature of Business Aviation operations, the personalised approach and services offering the highest levels of safety, even before the crisis. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Business Aviation can quickly incorporate more public health measures.” HADID, which has its own staff on ground across Europe, continues to work closely with Business Aviation operators who are experiencing renewed interest in the options and opportunities provided by Business Aviation. Our Operations Control Centres which witnessed a surge in cargo related operations in recent months are now supporting first-time users whose lines of enquiry often begin with a concern for health and safety.
Business Aviation operators are largely optimistic about the future, especially companies reporting an increase in the volume of new clients who have not previously accessed private flights. Due to the fact that flying privately means a vastly reduced number of person-to-person interactions, both during and either side of a flight, it is becoming a more popular option for those who have the means. Those companies which have overcome the operational challenges and restrictions to keep fleets active may also be able to capitalise swiftly on any pent-up demand whilst ensuring the highest level of safety for crews and passengers alike. As such, Business Aviation is becoming one of the first-movers as travel restrictions begin to lift.
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