Businessmen shake hands by corporate jet

There’s a distinctively autumnal feel in the air. Here at PrivateFly HQ the weather is certainly telling us that.

But September, and the end of the summer, also signifies a seasonal shift in European private jet movements. Not so much in volume terms, but in the mix of types of customer – and where they are flying.

Business Aviation v Private Aviation

As I covered in a previous post (Business Or Leisure?), we have seen a notable increase in the proportion of private aviation (leisure) flights, since the recession.

The economic slowdown put corporate usage of private jets (business aviation) under the spotlight. And, while charter has gained share of business aviation from fractional ownership models (due to its greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness), growth of business flights has slowed down overall. In 2012 we saw 20% of our business generated from private aviation, versus 9% back in 2008.

But the mix of business and leisure flights does also vary by the seasons, and this time of year always sees the pendulum swing firmly back towards business use. The summer season is over and the private jets in Europe’s skies now are dominated by business people flying to and from key business capitals.

Destination patterns in Europe

This means we also see a major shift in where people are flying. From May to August, flights to airports serving European holiday hotspots such as Nice Cote d’Azur; Ibiza and Sardinia increase dramatically. Also those airports closest to the summer events that attract large numbers of wealthy travellers – such as Basel Mulhouse. The small Swiss airport sees over a 500% surge in private jet movements during the major international art fair, Art Basel, held in June each year.

And Nice Cote d’Azur airport, while still popular year-round (with second home owners in particular), sees its seasonal private jet flight patterns mirror the temperature gauge. When combined with its near neighbour Cannes Mandelieu (which is dedicated to private jets), the area is flooded with jets from May to August. There are over 100 private jet movements per day at the peak of demand – busier than anywhere else in Europe. So much so, that it can be difficult to arrange aircraft parking at Nice during key weekends, such as when the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival overlap.

Nice Cote d'Azur airport

Nice airport is flooded with flights in the summer

But from now onwards, the Cote d’Azur will be overshadowed by business aviation flights in and out of key business hubs including Paris Le Bourget, Geneva Cointrin, Moscow Vnukovo and London Luton. No matter what time of year, Paris Le Bourget is the busiest private airport in Europe with almost 48,000 flights in and out of the airport in the past year. Here’s a full rundown of Europe’s Top 25 private jet airports

However thoughts of holidays are never too far away. The European ski season is just around the corner and will see demand increase for leisure flights again. Private jets to European ski resorts.

And for those looking to escape to warmer climes, the Caribbean’s island geography makes the area particularly popular for private flights, with St Maarten or neighbouring St Barts particularly busy over the next few months. The Caribbean by private jet.