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Special Feature Asia-Pacific Business Jet Flight Activity A Year in Review – Asian Sky Quarterly 2020 Q4

by Global Sky Team

Special Feature Asia-Pacific Business Jet Flight Activity A Year in Review – Asian Sky Quarterly 2020 Q4

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WINGX Data Source: ADSB and ATC

Data By WINGX 

According to data from German business aviation consultancy WingX, the total number of business aviation flights departing from Asia-Pacific in 2020 was 78,518 – a 21% drop from 2019. The drastic drop of business aviation flights can be attributed to the outbreak of COVID-19 early in the year.

When the situation became clearer for aviation authorities in the region, we began to see flight activity return, especially in countries with large domestic markets. This was very evident in China, where domestic flight activity had reached the same levels in December as it had in December 2019.

All aviation regions saw declines in flight activity, although China has recovered the quickest. Singapore suffered the steepest decline, with 1,635 departures representing a 53% year-on-year drop in flight activity.

Because of constant regulatory changes in the aviation industry due the COVID-19 pandemic, long-haul flights were impacted the most in 2020. By the end of the year, the number of flights with a duration over five hours had still not bounced back to the same levels as in 2019.

Domestic flights played a major role in the start of the recovery. Overall, there were 11% more domestic flights in 2020 than in 2019. This signifieså a dramatic shift in aircraft operations.

The graph shows that by the end of 2020, flight activity in China and India had reached the same levels as 2019. Flight activity in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were the hardest hit in 2020.

Flight demand is closely related to economic activity. As we saw in mainland China, successful control of COVID-19 led to an early economic recovery, which in turn boosted flight activity. However, in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Thailand – countries that still had tight restrictions in place – economic recovery has still to take place, so flight activity was low.

For Greater China, the impact of COVID-19 was the most severe between February and May. Flight activity began to rebound in Q2 and continued for the rest of the year. Ultra long-range and heavy jets are still the major players in the Greater China market.

Based on WingX’s data, we can see an interesting trend – traditional large business jet OEMs aircraft flew less than those OEMs making lighter aircraft models. OEMs like Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault’s aircraft flew less when compared to 2019, while Cessna/Hawker, Learjet and Honda’s aircraft flew more.

The chart shows that more 1-4 hour flights took place between June and the end of 2020. Long haul flights are almost nonexistent, except for evacuation flights that took place in February and March. The busiest hub in APAC since May 2020 has been Beijing. Flight activity in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Bangkok experienced some fluctuations in the third and fourth quarters. Flight activity in Hong Kong and Tokyo remained relatively stable when compared to other cities in the region.

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