29 January 2019

Europe’s Top 20 private jet airports in 2018

Overall 2018 was a year of flat demand for business aviation in both Europe and the US, with just marginal growth in activity versus the year before. But while the overall picture was static, there were shifts in demand from one airport to another – with some seeing considerable growth in business aviation flight activity, while others declined.

We analysed industry figures from intelligence provider WingX-Advance, to look at the busiest private jet airports in Europe during 2018.

The big success stories: London’s Farnborough & Biggin Hill

Paris Le Bourget is at the very top of the table with over 54,000 flight movements last year (a departure or arrival). But when it comes to cities, London tops the rest.

Whereas the vast majority of business aviation movements in Paris are focussed at Le Bourget, London’s multiple gateways mean it’s the busiest city in Europe for private jet travel by some distance, with its top three airports generating a combined a total of over 73,000 flight movements. London is also home to the airport that showed the most growth of any in Europe’s Top 20 last year – London Farnborough.

Moving up to fifth place, Farnborough saw annual growth of 14.6% – its busiest year ever. It is now neck-and-neck with London rival Luton (at fourth place) which has usually had a clear lead as the UK’s number one over the last few years. Farnborough has always offered exceptional service levels and is now approved to handle up to 50,000 flight movements – so there’s room for growth. Despite being more expensive than Luton, more and more private jet customers are choosing it.

Similarly Biggin Hill had another big year of growth, up 11.9% on 2017 and now in ninth place in Europe. The South London airport in continuing to attract more private jet users, with extended hours and a £15M investment plan. The team have done a great job over the past few years to change perceptions and, with a competitive pricing strategy and helicopter transfers to cut down transfer times to London, more and more customers are choosing it.

Decline at Luton and Northolt

Farnborough and Biggin Hill both benefitted from declines at London Luton and London RAF Northolt – and are likely to continue to do so in 2019.

Luton saw a 4.2% reduction in business aviation activity last year – the biggest drop of any airport in the Top 20. With availability for business aviation limited by the airport’s growing airline traffic, and its 24-hour access being withdrawn over the summer months (due to a breach of its noise control limits), it is losing customers to its dedicated business aviation rivals.

RAF Northolt also saw further decline in private jet activity last year, with lower investment and staffing making it difficult to secure a reliable slot here for private jet flights. And with its runway scheduled to close for six months from the spring of this year, it will be out of the equation altogether during the peak period of 2019.

Growth at Paris Le Bourget & Nice Cote d’Azur

With France the biggest country market for business aviation in Europe, two French airports top the table – Paris Le Bourget at number one, and Nice Cote d’Azur in second place. And it was a year of growth for both, with Le Bourget seeing a 4.8% increase on 2017, and Nice up just slightly at 0.4%.

Nice managed to keep it’s number two position ahead of Geneva, which it overtook in 2017. Like London Luton, Geneva saw further decline, with its business aviation growth capped by its growing airline business.

Spain is also well-represented with four airports now in the top 20 – Barcelona for the first time – and all generating growth in 2018.

Europe’s Top 20 airports for private jets 2018

1 (1) LFBP Paris Le Bourget 54,054 4.8%
2 (2) LFMN Nice Cote D’Azur 35,662 0.4%
3 (3) LSGG Geneva 34,002 -1.1%
4 (4) EGGW London Luton 28,082 -4.2%
5 (6) EGLF London Farnborough 28,056 14.6%
6 (5) LSZH Zurich 24,968 0.0%
7 (7) LIML Milan Linate 19,604 1.2%
8 (8) UUWW Moscow Vnukovo 18,860 -1.4%
9 (10) EGKB London Biggin Hill 17,178 11.9%
10 (9) LIRA Rome Ciampino 16,194 -3.2%
11 (11) LOWW Vienna Schwechat 15,062 -1.7%
12 (12) EDDM Munich Munchen 14,776 -0.3%
13 (14) EDDS Stuttgart 13,808 -3.3%
14 (13) LFMD Cannes Mandelieu 13,718 -1.2%
15 (17) EDDB Berlin Schoenefeld 13,182 7.7%
16 (15) LEPA Palma de Mallorca 13,034 2.0%
17 (16) LEMD Madrid Barajas 12,538 1.6%
18 (19) LKPR Prague Vaclav Havel 12,224 1.7%
19 (18) LEIB Ibiza 12,178 2.6%
20 (-) LEBL Barcelona 11,274 5.6%

For prices to or from any European airport you can search online, or contact our team (24/7) for quotes and advice on +44 (0)20 7100 6960

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