In the first eight months of 2012, Europe has experienced a 10% increase in Ultra Long Range (ULR) jet departures, according to Eurocontrol data analyzed by Avinode. This increase stands in stark contrast to the downgrade trend currently affecting other jet categories on the continent. On the surface this trend may see to contradict general market forces in the region, but in actuality it reflects the vast differences between general aviation consumer groups in Europe.
Consumers of ULR jet travel are, by and large, far less sensitive to shifts in the economy then those who choose to fly on other jet classes. Travelers in this sector, commonly, own their aircraft and operate them mostly for personal use. In fact, 61% of all ULR flights in Europe are flown under G flight rules, which preclude charter. This is nearly the opposite of other jet categories where, on average, 62% of flights operate under, charter friendly, N flight rules.
Who is in the air?
The United Kingdom, the most popular country for ULR travel in Europe, is responsible for 14% of all ULR departures on the continent, followed closely by France with 13.9% of departures, Switzerland with 12%, Germany with 6% and Spain with 4%. Germany and the United Kingdom lead growth in the sector, having experienced ULR travel increases of 24% and 10% respectively.
Russia and the United States are also significant contributors to ULR traffic in the region. Inbound flights from these two countries have seen increases of 15% and 8% respectively, over the last eight months, while outbound traffic has also experienced a boost. Traffic from the UK to the US has seen a year over year increase of 26% over the last eight months, while traffic from Germany to Russia has also increased by 26% in the period.
By far the most popular destinations for ULR flights into and within the EU are those associated with leisure travel. 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 last represents the majority of Russian ULR traffic into Europe, receiving 143% more ULR flights from Russia than, Geneva, the second most popular destination for inbound Russian Ultra Long Range jets.