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Spring break fails to drive strong flight numbers for bizjets in March

While spring break travel numbers fell short of expectations, business aircraft flight activity in March finished higher than February's numbers but were down 3.7% globally compared to March of 2023. That's according to the latest figures from ARGUS Analytics' TRAQPak report. Worldwide numbers for March gained 8.5% month to month. Softened demand for Part 91 and Part 135 operations dragged down year-to-year numbers in North America by 4.3%, while European bizjet flights dipped 11.3% from 2023. March activity was lower than expected in North America and Europe but it remained in the same ranges seen over the past 18 months. "March wrapped up Q1 remaining status quo; however, the early data in April has shown an uptick in activity," said Travis Kuhn, senior vice president of software for ARGUS. "If that change holds then we would be looking at improving activity across the North American market. The key market to watch remains the Part 135 market as it continues its recent run of declines." PREVIOUS STORY: Bizjet flights bounce higher in February thanks to leap dayIn North America, the number of average daily flights increased by 16 per day compared to February. Last year that number increased by 300 flights per day. Fractional flights were the only operational category to see a year-to-year bump, rising 12.6%, while Part 135 flights sagged 6.2% and Part 91 flights declined 8.4%. Fractional large-cabin flights finished particularly well, up 26.1%, year to year. Flights of mid-sized cabin aircraft in the region were essentially flat, gaining 0.1% as small-cabin flights dropped 3.2%, large-cabin flights fell by 6.7%, and turboprops shed 8.5% from last year's March numbers. March had two more calendar days, helping fuel its gain over February. Results by operational category were all positive for the month. All eight FAA regions saw a monthly increase in flight activity, with the New England region leading the way as activity jumped 10.9% month to month. Activity in Canada and the Caribbean combined to increase 5.6% from February, with Caribbean activity increasing by 31%. European activity gained from February but finished down year over year at 11.3%, particularly among large-cabin and turboprop flights, according to ARGUS data. The TRAQPak analysts expect April to fair similarly to March and to benefit from Easter already happening, which Kuhn said normally slows down traffic. ARGUS projects a 1.4% decrease in North American flight activity year over year with European flights dipping 0.3%.
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