Business aircraft movements in Europe hit a new record in July, thanks largely to a surge in charter flights, and soaring activity levels during the FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia.

According to the latest data from German company WingX Advance, Europe’s airports recorded 94,000 departures in July, marking a 2.8% increase on the previous record, achieved in June 2008 when some 91,400 departures were logged in the region.

Jet operations were the strongest performers in July, chalking-up a record 62,000 departures, the report shows, smashing a previous best of around 59,000 departures, logged in the same month last year, says WingX. Movements of turboprop- and piston-engined aircraft numbered 32,000 – around 1,000 shy of their June 2010 peak, WingX reveals.

Charter flights represented almost 60% of all activity in July, with numbers climbing by 3.9% year on year, the data indicates.

Russia recorded the strongest growth, with its position as host of the 2018 World Cup – held from 14 June to 15 July – causing flights between the nation’s airports and the rest of Europe to climb by 26% year on year, to 2,040. Activity between the UK and Russia more than doubled during the period, rising from 68 to 163 departures, according to the report.

“The football World Cup helped in boosting business aviation activity to its highest ever monthly level in July,” says WingX Advance managing director Richard Koe.

France remained the busiest country for business aircraft flights. However, it saw a 1% slide in departures – mainly due to a fall in demand for long-range and large-cabin jets. Italy and Spain saw a similar trend, but large-jet activity jumped by nearly 10% in Switzerland and Greece, WingX notes.

Koe says overall, activity in July was “balanced” between large, midsize and light jets and although there was a “continued shift in demand toward charter”, privately-operated flights climbed during the period by 2%.

He believes the growth in movements is a reflection of the expanding inventory of business aircraft in Europe and an “efficient supply side, such as air taxi operators and online broker channels”. Koe cautions, however, that the market is driven largely by leisure travellers and could “easily disappear if and when there is another economic shock”.

Source: Flight International