Despite regulatory uncertainty in the face of protracted Brexit negotiations, WINGX reports that 2017 saw business aviation activity to and from the UK rank among the top three countries for growth in Europe alongside France and Germany thanks to an additional 375 departures per month compared with 2016.
According to Richard Koe, Managing Director of WINGX, much of the UK's 4.3% year-on-year business aviation growth during 2017 was driven by London, which saw an impressive 5.5% increase in overall activity. London Biggin Hill Airport saw the most substantial rise, reporting a 15.6% boost in business aviation flights, followed by London Stansted and Farnborough, which witnessed a 12.9% and 9.4% upturn in annual flight activity respectively.
The UK's leadership in business jet activity is so far showing no sign of abating this year, with WINGX revealing that in January 2018 London airports saw over 3,800 business aviation departures - almost double the number in Paris, the next busiest city. Charter demand continues to drive the numbers; AOC flights in the UK were up 10% YOY in January. Interestingly, Koe notes that over 60% of the UK's business aviation departures are commercially-operated, far higher than either France or Germany.
Trends indicate that the Light Jet segment is the most active within this market, accounting for 19% of all commercial sectors flown from the UK last year. Koe says within this segment, the most active aircraft types flying in 2017 were the Cessna Citation CJ2 and the Embraer Phenom 300. The next busiest was the Citation Bravo, which saw over 1,500 departures out of the UK, an increase in activity of more than 50% from 2016.
The charter market also saw particularly impressive growth in 2017, increasing by 8.3% compared with the previous year. Looking ahead, Koe predicts that with the authorisation of single-engine commercial operations lowering the product price-point in mid-2017, 2018 will be the year to see whether the popularity of the leading single-engine types amongst owners. Pilatus PC-12 flights, for example were up another 13% last year, furthering broadening the appeal of business aviation.
WINGX also confirms larger cabin activity out of the UK remains stable and has seen 5% growth during the last 12 months led by a few select aircraft types, such as the Embraer Legacy 600 and the Bombardier Global Express.