Business Aviation to Grow 4% Annually in Europe

European social perspectives recognize the value of business aviation rather than seeing it as a luxury.

European business aviation traffic is expected to grow four percent annually and could reach a seven percent increase if the predicted strong growth of very light jets comes to fruition, according to a new report published by Eurocontrol. The report also predicts that the business aviation fleet will increase from about 2,000 aircraft today to 3,000 aircraft , by 2015. The increased aircraft means such flights could increase as much as 1,800 daily by the end of the forecast period

Getting to the Point: Business Aviation in Europe noted that business aviation accounted for 6.9 percent of the 9.2 million annual flights in 2005. That constitutes an 8.9 percent increase in business jet traffic over 2004, compared to a 2.4% growth in business turboprop flights.

Eurocontrol cited several reasons for the increasing growth, not the least of which was new business models such as the advent of the very light jet (VLJ), which gave a new accessibility to this segment of the aviation industry. In addition, the perceived delay and security problems of the airlines were also cited along with growing prosperity of both companies and individuals.

"Growth on these levels presents a number of challenges for air traffic management," said Bo Redeborn, director of air traffic management (ATM) strategies at Eurocontrol. "European social perspectives recognize the value of business aviation rather than seeing it as a luxury," said the agency, adding a stronger euro is making dollar-priced aircraft cheaper. Although there is relatively little business aviation traffic, it generates more and bigger unanticipated peaks of demand at airports than does scheduled traffic of airports of similar size. This consumes a disproportionate amount of flow management resources."

While much has been said about hub congestion creating a new level of point-to-point commercial service, the report said that instead, business aviation has become the real point-to-point form of travel. "Business aviation is not about taking passengers from the front cabin of a scheduled flight and flying them in their own aircraft," said the report. "Business aviation fills a gap in scheduled services: most business flights are between cities not served by scheduled flights."

Indeed, the network of airport pairs linked by business aviation - at 100,000 - is three times the number of airport pairs developed for the scheduled flight network with its 30,000 airport pairs. The report indicated that 40% of business aviation flights are for positioning aircraft and are thus flying empty. Currently, only nine percent of business flights are over 2,200 km and nearly half are under 500 km, most in the 300-to-400 km range, compared to only 30% of scheduled flights serving routes of the same length. It also noted that 3,000 scheduled airline airport pairs are served one to two times per week and 1,000 are connected seven times per week. For business aircraft, however, despite the large number of airport pairs, most are flown less than once a week, and, because of the number of positioning flights, served in only one direction.

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