One question that comes up frequently is what the top private jet routes are, and whether they have changed much over time. The snapshot below is private jets on Part 135 (no fractional or Part 91) over the course of 2021. These are flights in either direction for the city pairs listed.
While COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on travel patterns, what the chart above illustrates, is that at the core, the top routes have not changed. New York to South Florida is by far the busiest route. If you combine White Plains with Teterboro, then West Palm is the top destination. Absent that aggregation, Opa Locka (Miami) is the #1 destination in Florida. New York to Florida has been the top private jet route for as long as I have been in the business and that is longer than I care to admit.
The second most popular route is Los Angeles to Las Vegas. This has been the case for decades too, and continues to hold true. Trans-continental traffic between Los Angeles and New York takes the third spot (when you count the New York to Florida volume as a single route). I do believe we may be seeing more private trans-con traffic today as a result of less frequent, less reliable commercial service and more concern about spending hours shoulder to shoulder with strangers. That said, Los Angeles to New York and Vice Versa has always been a popular private jet route.
As a side note, if we counted repos, KHPN - KTEB would make the top 5 list and would come in above KVNY - KTEB. This makes me wonder if/when we'll see someone package empty legs with an Uber ride to give people a taste of the private jet experience (I'm joking - but stranger things have happened).
When we look at 2021 vs 2019 over the course of the full-year, you'll see that volume is showing up 11.7%, while December came in almost 18% up, indicating that volume grew over the course of the year. In fact, as we look back, we were below 2019 volumes for most of Q1. These numbers are slightly under-stated because we are using cohort of known charter tails and we have been tracking change in volume for those tails/fleets. Any new additions to the charter fleet have not been factored in (we will start doing that with 2022). That said most of the aircraft sales activity has been on the Part 91 side of the business. We've even heard of aircraft being pulled out of 135 by their owners. Net/net I believe the data below is a good indicator of where we're at as an industry.
For the full year 2021 in the Part 91 world, we are showing 230,000 hours above and beyond what was flown in 2019, which is just under a 9% increase, and a huge bump based on historic growth rates.
As a single airport, despite coming in below 2019 volume levels for the year, Teterboro is still the busiest airport in business aviation. That is saying something when volume for the year at Teterboro came in 14% below 2019. In the latter part of the year volume recovered, and over the holidays it exceeded 2019 by about 15%. I had a chance to fly the Bonanza into Teterboro a couple of weeks ago, where I witnessed that highly choreographed jigsaw puzzle of heavy metal that is TEB first-hand. It certainly felt as busy as ever in the air and on the ground.
The Large Cabin aircraft class has been the most heavily impacted (negatively) by the pandemic, but as you will see in the chart below, volume for this size class came back strong enough in Q4 to bring the total flying just above 2019 levels for the year.
Summing it up, 2021 started out tracking under 2021 pretty significantly, but in late spring, early summer we all witnessed surge in demand that came with vaccine rollout and has maintained itself from that point forward. From all accounts, we are now living in a World where demand is outstripping supply and solving for that supply shortfall is going to take time. This means that from a year over year flight volume perspective we're not likely to see the same type of growth that we did in 2021, because the capacity isn't there to support those kinds of numbers. Optimization will be the name of the game for 2022.
Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and words of appreciation around the production of this data. That is what makes it worth it. For those who have interest in seeing the full 2021 vs 2019 picture for other airports, size classes, etc., I hope to hear/see you on the call later today.
In any case, best wishes for a fantastic 2022!