Is There a Sustainable Recovery for European Business Aviation?

Now that we have a full quarter of 2014 behind us, we have enough information to take a look at foreign business aviation markets and seek out signs of sustainable growth. The UK especially is a market that business aviation experts are interested in examining.

While a three month surge of business aviation activity recorded what may seem like an impressive 52,794 flights in Europe through April 2014, this activity actually represents a 2.3% year-over-year decline overall. But not all the news is bad: The UK private aviation market has shown some growth. Check out the following statistics from Hangar8 this year:

  • The UK’s heavy jet fleet now accounts for 15% of the European total.
  • The number of business flights into London’s busiest business airports rose 6% with an additional 300 flights.
  • The unaudited half-year results revealed a 13.1% increase in revenue and a 25% increase in gross profit.

While all of these signs seem to reflect a strong and competitive repositioning as well as a growing market, the crisis in Ukraine isn’t helping anything, undermining the uncertain climate. What may appear as a growth streak might not end up being sustainable in the face of these other statistics:

  • Business jet activity in Europe fell 1.1% from last March.
  • Charter flying dipped by 3.9% from last March.
  • Business jet activity in Germany declined 15% with 310 fewer flights than last year.
  • Activity in Ukraine and Russia fell 30% and 13%, respectively.

Until the crisis in Ukraine is settled, it seems unlikely that we’ll be able to definitively determine whether business aviation is taking off in the UK or not. In the mean time, we’ll keep observing — and keep our fingers crossed.

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