Europe's business aircraft providers have seen a surge in bookings from airline customers whose travel plans have been disrupted by the severe weather that has gripped many parts of the continent.

"It has been manic," says Patrick Margetson Rushmore, co-founder and chief executive of London Executive Aviation, one of Europe's largest charter and management companies. "Due to the travel chaos, we have seen our average daily quote tally for this time of year climb from 60 to 250. Last year we were averaging between eight and 15 sectors a day, but because of the bad weather, it is up to 30 a day."

LEA says the severe weather has forced many people to use private aircraft as a substitute for a cancelled or severely delayed airline service, to reach connecting flights "or simply to fly them home after they have become stranded".

Many of Europe's secondary airports - which are used by business aircraft operators - have not been severely hampered by the extreme conditions, says Margetson Rushmore, giving charter companies more flexibility than their airline counterparts.

This situation is mirrored by other European charter providers. Online business aircraft booking service says its business is booming and demand is particularly strong "from companies who cannot risk senior executives missing meetings or being left stranded in Europe".

PrivateFly chief executive Adam Twidell says: "Private jets are highly flexible and we have been able to re-route customers while the aircraft are flying, to stay one step ahead of airport closures and disruption. In the last 48 hours, we have seen echoes of the ash cloud crisis, with a surge of bookings and increased visitors."

Source: Flight International