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Private air travel hits new record; no impact from Omicron variant in latest ARGUS numbers

Dec. 2021 flight activity heat map / Courtesy of ARGUSOmicron did not impact global flight activity in December. That's according to the latest TRAQPak report from ARGUS. The company's data show that, while flight activity dropped 2% from November to December, that slight dip had been in its forecast, and that December flight activity was up 43.7%, year to year. "Overall, December flight activity was pretty much right on forecast as Omicron did not cause any noticeable disruptions to business aircraft operations," said Travis Kuhn, ARGUS vice president of market intelligence. "We anticipate more of the same in January and Q1 2022."The ARGUS report notes that December flight activity is historically flat or slightly lower than November due to the long holiday period and the impact of winter storms. Looking back to North American flights before the COVID-19 pandemic, December 2021 outpaced December 2019 by 16.5%. The month-to-month decline in North America was 2.4%.In North America, flight activity for December was the strongest on record, according to ARGUS, while the year-to-year gain for December in Europe was 63.7%. However, European flights saw a 9.8% drop, month to month in December. More details on December 2021 flight activity in the U.S. and abroadBy FAA region, the Northwest saw the only month-to-month gain, at a robust 19.7%, while New England saw the largest drop-off, contracting by 13.3%. By aircraft type, large-cabin jets are driving the bulk of the bounce. In North America, the growth year to year was 60.7% overall. Broken down by category, large-cabin flight growth in 2021 compared to 2020 was up 63.5% for Part 91 operators, 61.2% for Part 135, and 45.3% for fractionals.Large-cabin jet flights in Europe grew by 142.6% in Europe, year to year, and by 53.6% across the rest of the globe, where flight activity year to year grew by 70.3%RELATED: Highest fuel prices in years not slowing private aviation industry Despite the headwinds of the Omicron variant of COVID and aviation fuel prices being at their highest point in several years, the private aviation industry continues to thrive, something that most industry analysts expect to continue even further into 2022.
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