Victor Market update: H1 2024

While nations across the globe continue to undergo a year of transformation, the private aviation sector has been quietly enjoying a return to stability and relative normality…

With 64 countries and 49% of the global population taking part in national elections this year, 2024 will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal year in history. With so many nations undergoing a year of ‘transition’, stakeholders of the private aviation sector have been welcoming lower inflation and stable fuel prices with open arms. A little help from major events such as the UEFA EUROs and Paris Olympics has also brought some needed buoyancy to the market.

So far this year there has been a noticeable increase in the number of jets on the market helping to feed the growing demand – according to WingX the active fleet this year is 2.5% larger than in 2023, up 8% on 2022. Jet fuel price monitors show that on the 7th of June one barrel cost $95.31 – which is around the lowest it has been since the end of the pandemic. With fuel burn contributing to around 30% of the overall cost of a jet charter, private flyers will be pleased to have seen a return to stability in 2024 after experiencing significant volatility over the past two years. This stability can be beneficial for planning and budgeting in the aviation industry.

With global inflation cooling and interest rates falling from the record highs of the past two years, lower loan costs for private jet operators will also ultimately help to stabilise on-demand charter prices. A few weeks ago, the Bank of England announced it would maintain interest rates at 5.25% for the seventh consecutive time. In a notable shift, the European Central Bank (ECB) reduced its main interest rate from a historic high of 4% to 3.75%, marking the first cut in five years. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve decided to keep its key interest rates steady between 5.25% and 5.5%, a stance unchanged since July 2023, and indicated it anticipates a single rate cut in 2024.

But that’s enough of looking at the bigger picture, let’s dive into some of our own data to showcase how the market is looking from a Victor perspective.

Average jet charter prices show slight decline

Overall, the first half of 2024 has witnessed both stabilisation and a slight decrease in private jet charter costs, reflecting a market adjusting to more consistent demand. For Victor members, this translates to more competitive rates and enhanced value for their travel needs. Notably, Turboprops, Light Jets, and Super Light Jets are all cheaper than they were at this time last year. As a seasonal market, Q3 is often the most expensive quarter for chartering a private jet. However, private flyers should feel encouraged by the more favourable conditions present during the peak season.

The rates for Super Light Jets have remained relatively stable, with a slight increase in Q2 2024, averaging around $6,500 per hour. Ultra Long-Range jets continue to command the highest rates, peaking at about $13,000 per hour. However, there has been a downward trend from Q3 2023 to Q1 2024, with rates decreasing to approximately $12,000 per hour by Q2 2024.

As highlighted in our charter rate analysis earlier this year, we’ve already seen a fair amount of price fluctuation at the highest end of the market – between Heavy jets and Ultra-Long range jets. Although these aircraft are considered the pinnacle of luxury air travel, they are of course far scarcer, and with newer models such as the luxurious Global 7500 becoming more available in the on-demand charter market, clients are willing to pay extra for finer luxury and better performance. With that said, because there are so many variables when it comes to pricing flights for these aircraft, it is always worth taking their ‘average’ price with a pinch of salt if you are considering chartering.

Popular aircraft and routes

The typical Victor client, aged between 40 and 50 and often owning multiple homes across Europe, seeks luxury and efficiency in air travel. In 2024, our data reveals key trends in the most popular aircraft and destinations for these discerning travellers.

The Phenom 300 has emerged as a top choice for short hops across Europe, offering a blend of modern amenities and exceptional comfort that has won over many travellers. Equally favoured is the Citation XLS+, a Super Light jet that strikes the perfect balance between performance and luxury, making it a reliable and widely available option. Meanwhile, the Pilatus PC-24 is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after aircraft, celebrated for its short runway capabilities and remarkable fuel efficiency.

Our clients’ preferred destinations include Nice, Palma, Malaga, Ibiza, Zurich, London, and Paris, all synonymous with the luxury lifestyle, offering stunning beaches and vibrant cityscapes. Over the past 12 months, flight costs on three key routes have significantly decreased: Nice (-16%), Palma (-7%), and Paris (-17%). This trend indicates increased accessibility to these popular locations, enhancing their appeal even further.

Group Charter highlights

H1 2024 has been very positive for the Group Charter team so far with both total bookings and revenue up compared with H1 2023. The sports and corporate sectors continue to be the strongest performing verticals, representing 50% and 34%, respectively, with the remaining bookings coming from our music clientele and leisure groups.

We have had dedicated flight representatives on most of our flight operations this year to ensure that everything operates seamlessly and stress-free for the client. This has meant the team went the extra mile and visited over 20 countries to support our operations. The team have also had the privilege of welcoming Nicky Topintzis to the team to head up the flight management operations. Nicky’s 10+ years of experience have allowed the team to enhance the service they provide to their customers to ensure they are getting the best-in-class service.

Tom Hill, Director of Group Charter at Victor states; “We have had dedicated flight representatives on most of our flight operations this year to ensure that everything operates seamlessly and stress-free for the client. This has meant the team went the extra mile and visited over 20 countries to support our operations. What has been most pleasing, has been the diversity of the projects that we have been involved in. Our team has successfully delivered complex charter programmes in the Caribbean, supported a large international sporting event, took 300 employees from the UK to Marrakech on a company incentive trip, and supported our International football clients on the European qualifying campaigns.”

Tom adds, “There are still operational challenges within the industry, most notably aircraft availability during the summer months.  We have had instances where customers have requested flights, and there has physically been no aircraft available, or we have had to bring aircraft from further afield. We have noticed this mainly in the ‘narrowbody airline’ category, which typically has 100-200 seats. This is mainly due to airlines’ limited charter capacity during the summer months.”

Regional Updates

(Data from WingX)

At the halfway mark of this year, France stands out as the busiest private jet market in Europe, despite a 3% decline in departures compared to last year. Contrasting this trend, Italy and Spain have seen growth, with year-on-year increases of 3% and 5%, respectively. Greece is also experiencing remarkable growth, with bizjet departures up by an impressive 11% over last year.

In Germany, business jet activity fell, quite surprisingly, 10% below 2019 levels during the first five months of this year. However, the ongoing UEFA EURO tournament, which they are currently hosting, has provided a significant boost and led to a 3% YoY increase for the month of June. Airports in cities hosting group games, particularly Düsseldorf (EDDL), Dortmund (EDLW), and Leipzig/Halle (EDDP), witnessed substantial spikes in usage. Nearly a third of arrivals into Düsseldorf in June came from other German airports, with arrivals from the UK more than doubling year-on-year.

Transatlantic jet flights from the US to Europe have risen by 5% this June, with flights into France soaring by 26%. The high-end tourist demand is likely fuelling this increase, providing a boost to the European charter market, which has otherwise faced a slight downturn this year. In the Middle East, June has already seen a surge in tourist activity in Bodrum, with Doha’s bizjet activity up 60%. For the month of June, Dubai has seen a 1.9% increase in departures compared to last year.

Since launching our new HQ in Abu Dhabi in April earlier this year, we have noticed a marked increase in the amount of Midsize, Heavy, and Ultra-Long range aircraft being chartered with Victor. This is partly due to residents in the UAE looking to enjoy the various sporting events taking place in Europe this summer. Below we have listed the top 5 aircraft we see being chartering through our Victor MENA office.

As we aim to provide our clients and members with fully transparent and honest updates on the charter market, we welcome any feedback or additional information from alternative perspectives. Our office is open 24/7 and we remain available for further insight or in case you wish to explore the charter market for an upcoming trip.

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