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Thanksgiving private jet flights were 7.6% off 2019 pre-COVID levels compared to 60% for the airlines, and there were big changes in when and where people were flying

The largest market for private jets, Florida, had a 13% increase, with Palm Beach flights increasing 87%

More private jet travelers flew the Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving

Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, Bermuda, Costa Rica, and Jamaica saw increases in U.S. arrivals

While private jets remain the shining star of the gutted travel industry, Thanksgiving flights may have fallen short of expectations.

According to WingX, the extended Thanksgiving period, from Friday before the holiday through Monday after, saw 56,005 U.S. private jet departures, 7.6% below 2019 levels. Despite COVID-19, during the July 4th holiday, private flights increased by 5% year-over-year.

Still, by comparison, the recovery gap between private aviation and the airlines remains wide. The number of airline passengers passing through TSA checkpoints for that same period dropped by 60% to 10.5 million from 26.1 million.

With fewer touchpoints, private aviation has been benefiting from new customers seeking to avoid exposure to COVID. Executives from the industry have recently said in some cases their activity is now back above pre-pandemic levels.

Analyzing the data from the 11-day Thanksgiving travel period beginning the Friday before the holiday through the Monday afterward revealed big shifts, even if total flights were close to 2019 levels.

Specifically, we examined Thanksgiving private jet flights ranked by day, state, busiest airports, and most popular international and U.S. territory destinations for U.S. departures. You will find a summary and detailed tables for each below.

Private Jet Departures by Day

According to WingX data provided to Private Jet Card Comparisons, the 11-day period showed only two days (table below) when U.S. private jet departures increased – the Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Saturday before the holiday saw the biggest increase with private flights up by 18.5%. The busiest days – the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Friday before the holiday – held their positions. The biggest drops came the Saturday after Thanksgiving (-21%) and Thanksgiving Day (-18.7%), indicating private jet flyers took off earlier and stayed a bit longer.

Private Jet Departures by Day (2020 vs. 2019)

Day of Week 2019 Departures 2020 Departures YOY % Change
Friday                7,030                6,535 -7.0% -495
Saturday                4,752                5,630 18.5% 878
Sunday                4,861                5,234 7.7% 373
Monday                5,221                4,997 -4.3% -224
Tuesday                6,399                5,608 -12.4% -791
Wednesday                6,225                5,449 -12.5% -776
Thanksgiving Thursday                2,081                1,691 -18.7% -390
Friday                3,591                3,283 -8.6% -308
Saturday                5,796                4,581 -21.0% -1,215
Sunday                8,081                7,502 -7.2% -579
Monday                6,600                5,495 -16.7% -1105
Total Thanksgiving             60,637             56,005 -7.6% -4,632
Source: WingX

Private Jet Departures by State

In terms of private flights by state (table below), while overall the segment may have been closing in on last year’s numbers, there were far fewer winners in terms of gains. Only seven of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, saw gains.

Wyoming saw the biggest gain with a 37% increase, although it was still 41st overall. Sixth-ranked Colorado saw an 18% increase while 8th-ranked Arizona and 30th ranked Utah saw private jet departures increase by 15%.

Florida, which held its top spot in departures (9,710), saw an increase by 13%, Second place California was down 3%, while Texas, ranked third, saw departures down 7%, fourth place Georgia was off 1%, and fifth place New York was down 10%.

New Jersey, driven by a decline at Teterboro Airport, which service New York City, saw private jet departures drop 37%. However, Vermont saw the biggest decline (-49%), followed by Rhode Island (-41%).

Private Jet Departures by State (2020 vs. 2019)

States 2020
Departures
(20-30 Nov)
2019
Departures
(22 Nov – 2 Dec)
YOY %
1. Florida 9,710 8,613 13%
2. California 6,661 6,880 -3%
3. Texas 5,976 6,421 -7%
4. Georgia 2,087 2,106 -1%
5. New York 2,015 2,243 -10%
6. Colorado 1,937 1,637 18%
7. New Jersey 1,850 2,938 -37%
8. Arizona 1,826 1,581 15%
9. Illinois 1,569 1,796 -13%
10. North Carolina 1,489 1,632 -9%
11. Tennessee 1,266 1,473 -14%
12. Ohio 1,129 1,474 -23%
13. Massachusetts 1,102 1,216 -9%
14. Michigan 1,099 1,270 -13%
15. Pennsylvania 997 1,409 -29%
16. South Carolina 979 1,002 -2%
17. Nevada 940 1,168 -20%
18. Missouri 858 1,028 -17%
19. Indiana 742 1,042 -29%
20. Alabama 680 811 -16%
21. Arkansas 673 711 -5%
22. Louisiana 666 896 -26%
23. Virginia 664 872 -24%
24. Wisconsin 614 759 -19%
25. Washington 609 734 -17%
26. District of Columbia 589 733 -20%
27. Oklahoma 579 614 -6%
28. Minnesota 517 684 -24%
29. Kansas 516 595 -13%
30. Utah 509 444 15%
31. Oregon 505 475 6%
32. Kentucky 388 415 -7%
33. Idaho 374 363 3%
34. Maryland 365 390 -6%
35. Nebraska 361 448 -19%
36. Montana 358 368 -3%
37. Connecticut 308 398 -23%
38. Iowa 305 379 -20%
39. Mississippi 291 417 -30%
40. Wyoming 287 209 37%
41. New Mexico 245 294 -17%
42. Hawaii 206 269 -23%
43. Alaska 186 187 -1%
44. New Hampshire 184 215 -14%
45. South Dakota 156 161 -3%
46. Maine 154 164 -6%
47. Delaware 134 174 -23%
48. West Virginia 116 171 -32%
49. Rhode Island 99 167 -41%
50. North Dakota 81 86 -6%
51. Vermont 54 105 -49%
Source: WingX

Top 50 Airports by Private Jet Departures

Among the 50 busiest airports ranked by 2020 private jet departures, there was also a lot of volatility, with 37 seeing changes in departures up or down by more than 10% and 17 having changes of +/- 25%, in other words, where the private jet set flew changed significantly.

Palm Beach International Airport was not only the busiest with 1,386 departures, an average of 126 per day over the 11 day period, but it also had the biggest year-over-year gain, an 87% increase.

Despite a 43% drop – the biggest among the top 50 airports, Teterboro still ranked second with 1,251 departures. Van Nuys Airport, the major private jet airport serving Los Angeles, saw a 5% increase (1,037) while departures at Dallas Love Filed (998) dipped by 1%. Fifth and sixth-ranked airports in Naples, Florida, and Scottsdale each had 30% gains.

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport ranked seventh, giving Florida thee of the seven top spots. Florida had seven and California six of the 23 airports among the top 50 that saw gains in private jet departures.

Top 50 Private Jet Airports (2020 vs. 2019)

Departure Airport 2020
Departures
(20-30 Nov)
2019
Departures
(22 Nov – 2 Dec)
YOY %
1. KPBI, PBI, Palm Beach Intl., West Palm Beach, FL 1,386 742 87%
2. KTEB, TEB, Teterboro, Teterboro, NJ 1,251 2,206 -43%
3. KVNY, VNY, Van Nuys, Van Nuys, CA 1,037 983 5%
4. KDAL, DAL, Dallas Love Field, Dallas, TX 998 1,012 -1%
5. KAPF, APF, Naples Municipal, Naples, FL 952 733 30%
6. KSDL, SCF, Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ 895 688 30%
7. KOPF, OPF, Miami-Opa Locka Executive, Miami, FL 867 741 17%
8. KHPN, HPN, Westchester County, White Plains, NY 825 1,022 -19%
9. KHOU, HOU, William P Hobby, Houston, TX 683 706 -3%
10. KAPA, APA, Centennial, Denver, CO 625 526 19%
11. KLAS, LAS, McCarran Intl., Las Vegas, NV 603 813 -26%
12. KSNA, SNA, John Wayne Orange County, Santa Ana, CA 600 575 4%
13. KPDK, PDK, DeKalb Peachtree, Atlanta, GA 592 561 6%
14. KIAD, IAD, Washington Dulles Intl., Dulles, VA 576 697 -17%
15. KFXE, FXE, Ft. Lauderdale Executive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 532 451 18%
16. KBCT, BCT, Boca Raton, Boca Raton, FL 487 705 -31%
17. KBED, BED, Laurence G Hanscom Field, Bedford, MA 469 595 -21%
18. KMDW, MDW, Chicago Midway Intl., Chicago, IL 448 628 -29%
19. KSRQ, SRQ, Sarasota Bradenton Intl., Sarasota, FL 438 327 34%
20. KFLL, FLL, Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood Intl., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 437 516 -15%
21. KPWK, PWK, Chicago Executive, Chicago, IL 437 376 16%
22. KAUS, AUS, Austin Bergstrom Intl., Austin, TX 425 462 -8%
23. KPTK, PTK, Oakland County Intl., Pontiac, MI 389 357 9%
24. KOAK, OAK, Metropolitan Oakland Intl., Oakland, CA 383 560 -32%
25. KMIA, MIA, Miami Intl., Miami, FL 372 412 -10%
26. KSAT, SAT, San Antonio Intl., San Antonio, TX 369 403 -8%
27. KSJC, SJC, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Intl., San Jose, CA 365 488 -25%
28. KBNA, BNA, Nashville Intl., Nashville, TN 362 446 -19%
29. KSUA, SUA, Witham Field, Stuart, FL 328 480 -32%
30. KSLC, SLC, Salt Lake City Intl., Salt Lake City, UT 320 272 18%
31. KBFI, BFI, Boeing Field King County Intl., Seattle, WA 317 469 -32%
32. KLAX, LAX, Los Angeles Intl., Los Angeles, CA 309 386 -20%
33. KPSP, PSP, Palm Springs Intl., Palm Springs, CA 294 287 2%
34. KSFO, SFO, San Francisco Intl., San Francisco, CA 294 232 27%
35. KECP, ECP, NW Florida Beaches Intl., Panama City, FL 292 212 38%
36. KFTW, FTW, Fort Worth Meacham Intl., Fort Worth, TX 292 323 -10%
37. KASE, ASE, Aspen-Pitkin Co/Sardy Field, Aspen, CO 290 173 68%
38. KTRM, TRM, Jacqueline Cochran Airport, Palm Springs, CA 290 250 16%
39. KTPA, TPA, Tampa Intl., Tampa, FL 288 263 10%
40 . KCHS, CHS, Charleston Intl., Charleston, SC 276 259 7%
41. KCRQ, CLD, Mc Clellan-Palomar, Carlsbad, CA 274 267 3%
42. KADS, ADS, Addison, Dallas, TX 272 241 13%
43. KMMU, MMU, Morristown Municipal, Morristown, TX 272 356 -24%
44. KBUR, BUR, Bob Hope, Burbank, CA 271 368 -26%
45. KSAV, SAV, Savannah Hilton Head Intl., Savannah, GA 266 303 -12%
46. KRDU, RDU, Raleigh Durham Intl., Raleigh/Durham, NC 265 326 -19%
47. KFRG, FRG, Republic, Farmingdale, NY 259 259 0%
48. KCLT, CLT, Charlotte Douglas Intl., Charlotte, NC 257 274 -6%
49. KPHX, PHX, Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl., Phoenix, AZ 255 313 -19%
50. KEGE, EGE, Eagle County Regional, Eagle, CO 249 205 21%
Source: WingX

Top International, U.S. Territory Private Jet Destinations

Mexico remained the number one destination for private jets leaving the U.S. with 1,246 flights, with over 113 flights per day during the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of 6%. Of the 25 top destinations, 12 saw gains, with St. Lucia up 180%, although it was based on an increase of 13 flights, from 5 to 18. Puerto Rico (+57%) and Bermuda (+50%) each saw big growth.

Canada held onto its spots as the second most popular destination with 515 flights despite a 50% decrease. The Bahamas was third with 380 flights on a 33% decline, while was Turks and Caicos saw a 12% dip, still good for fourth place with 123 flights.

Flights from the U.S. to the U.K. dropped 76%, from 108 to 26.

Top 25 International, U.S. Territory Private Jet Destinations

Destination from the U.S. 2020 Flights
(20-30 Nov)
2019 Flights
(22 Nov – 2 Dec)
YOY %
1. Mexico           1,246           1,174 6%
2.  Canada              515           1,021 -50%
3. the Bahamas              380              569 -33%
 4. Turks and Caicos Islands              123              140 -12%
 5. Puerto Rico              119                76 57%
 6. Dominican Republic              101                92 10%
7.  St. Maarten                73                71 3%
 8. U.S. Virgin Islands                51                56 -9%
 9. Bermuda                48                32 50%
 10. Costa Rica                47                37 27%
11. Antigua and Barbuda                37                38 -3%
12.  Jamaica                36                34 6%
13.  United Kingdom                26              108 -76%
14. Colombia                24                27 -11%
15.  Guatemala                17                27 -37%
16.  Anguilla                17                35 -51%
17. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines                17                16 6%
 18. Panama                14                20 -30%
 19. Ecuador                14                17 -18%
 20. Saint Lucia                14                  5 180%
 21. Cayman Islands                14                89 -84%
 22. Honduras                12                  9 33%
 23. Barbados                11                22 -50%
 24. Nicaragua                10                  8 25%
25. El Salvador 10 6 67%
Source: WingX

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