In the first eight months of 2012, Europe's airports recorded a 10% rise in departures of ultra-long-range business jets, according to Eurocontrol data analysed by online charter marketplace Avinode.

"This increase stands in stark contrast to the downgrade trend currently affecting other jet categories on the continent," says Avinode. "On the surface, this trend may seem to contradict general market forces in the region, but in actuality it reflects the vast differences between general aviation consumer groups in Europe," it adds.

Ultra-long-range jet travellers are typically far less sensitive to shifts in the economy than those who choose to fly on other jet classes, Avinode continues. "Travellers in this sector commonly own their aircraft and operate them mostly for personal use," it says.

According to the Eurocontrol data, the UK is responsible for 14% of all ultra-long-range departures on the continent, followed closely by France (13.9%); Switzerland (12%); Germany (6%); and Spain (4%).

Russia and the USA are also significant contributors to ultra-long-range traffic in the region. Inbound flights from these two countries have seen rises of 15% and 8% respectively during the past eight months, while outbound traffic has also experienced a boost. Traffic from the UK to the USA has undergone a year-on-year increase of 26% during the past eight months, while traffic from Germany to Russia has also risen by 26% in the same period, the figures show.

"By far the most popular destinations for ultra-long-range flights into and within the EU are those associated with leisure travel," says Avinode. Flights from the UK to Italy are up 12%, while flights from Germany to the South of France are up 37% and flights from Russia to Nice have increased by 54% in the first eight months of the year.

The latter figure represents the majority of Russian ultra-long-range traffic into Europe, receiving 143% more ultra-long-range flights from Russia than Geneva, the second most popular destination for inbound Russian ultra-long-range jets.

Source: Flight International