Business Jet Traffic Spikes; But Not Expected to Last With Omicron


With the reemergence of travel restrictions based on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 this is not likely to last, business jet traffic for the first three weeks of November was up almost 20 percent over that of the same period in pre-pandemic 2019—and close to 60 percent up from the same time frame last year. That is according to traffic analysis from flight-tracking specialist WingX.

Numbers for North America traffic were up by 17 percent over 2019, WingX reported, and 50 percent better in the U.S. than it was in COVID-ravaged 2020. Again, compared with pre-pandemic 2019, November’s European traffic was up 29 percent for the first three weeks, with the U.K. showing an increase in business jet travel that trends toward a 25 percent increase for the entire month.

But following news of the emergence of the Omicron, governments in the Asia-Pacific region imposed travel restrictions. Departures during the first three weeks of November were down by 11 percent in Turkey, while traffic dipped by 40 percent in China, compared to the same period in 2019.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. This may be true for international flights, but if the present administration enacts new or extends current restrictions for domestic travel, the demand for private charters will continue. It will work just like other businesses. Whenever politicians start talking gun control, sales of guns skyrocket. Same principle applies to the pt135 charter business. Right now the pt135 and private flying is booming, with other than the after holiday slowdown, with little sign of any slowdown. On my last airline flight I was on other passengers asked me if I was a pilot and when I tell them I fly charter I point out to them that the mask restrictions on airliners have been the best thing for the booming charter business. Most of the time those passengers completely understand.

    • Is the mask restrictions or are other restrictions are part of it as well? Is it fear of covid among the older, richer set?

      What sort of demographic makes up the charter customers? Lots of business travel?

      • All of the above, especially the mask issues, along with all of the other hassles involved with the airlines. Being able to fly into airports the airlines don’t service. Demographic, all kinds. Lots of business persons. The common denominator I see is that these people have the money to pay for the higher expense involved and are fed up with dealing with TSA or the airline “experience “. Lastly the one item the airlines have neglected, customer service! Customer service is a very big part of the charter business, sometimes more important than flying ability of the pilots. If the client is not treated properly (especially considering how much they are paying for that trip) they won’t come back, and word will get out quickly. Without excellent customer service, a charter pilot won’t last long in this business.