The use of private jets around the world surged to record levels in 2022, despite hundreds of commercial airline routes returning to service after the pandemic.
According to the business aviation data firm WingX, the number of flights on business aircraft across the globe rose by 10 percent last year compared to 2021—14 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In addition, the report lists more than 5.5 million business aircraft flights in 2022—more than 50 percent higher than in 2020.
Usually restricted to millionaires, celebrities, and government figures, private jet use initially surged in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many wealthy people and business travelers chose to charter private aircraft to avoid crowded flights as the virus spread across the world. The subsequent shutdown of commercial air traffic made private jet use an almost necessity for some.
With the worst of the pandemic now over, much of the global airline industry has returned to normal operations, and global business travel is returning to standard levels.
While most regions across the globe saw an increase in business aircraft travel last year, private flights in North America were a driving factor behind much of the rise. Around 2.8 million private jet flights were recorded in the region in 2022, making up around half of all business aircraft travel worldwide—an 11 percent rise compared to 2021 and 18 percent above 2019 levels.
Europe also saw a 10 percent increase in private jet use year-on-year and a 16 percent rise compared to 2019, with around 600,000 business aircraft flights recorded in 2022.
Private jet use rose by an even greater 20 percent outside of North America and Europe, with a big boost coming from Qatar. The Gulf state saw a 400 percent year-on-year increase in chartered flights during December, mainly driven by the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup.
However, while the global business aircraft industry is looking extremely healthy, the managing director of WingX, Richard Koe, predicts current demand to drop off slightly during 2023, at least in Europe.
“December 2022 activity was down year-on-year but was still the second-busiest December on record and capped off a record year for global business aviation flights,” said Koe.
“The trajectory month-to-month has been downwards for the last six months in Europe, where demand may fall back to 2019 levels this year. The erosion from peak demand in the U.S. has been more modest, and the market should sustain higher than pre-pandemic activity during 2023,” he said.
But the boost of chartering private flights worldwide also increased business aircraft sales, reaching unseen levels since the pandemic’s beginning.
Gulfstream Aerospace, the world’s most coveted private jet manufacturer, has experienced record sales across its entire product line, including jets as small as the G500 up to the brand-new G800.
In July last year, during the Farnborough Air Show, Scott Neal, SVP of Global Sales at Gulfstream, noted that sales had been “very robust” and that it had been “largely driven by first-time buyers,” which is a significant and growing part of the manufacturer’s business.