Cold relations between the West and Russia are continuing to weigh down Europe’s private aviation industry. The same day news broke that that Moscow interests may have been responsible for hacking into White House computers, WINGX Advance was releasing statistics for general aviation flights betweenRussia/CIS and Europe.
Richard Koe, Managing Director of the Hamburg-based research and consulting company, pointed to “the collapse in flights to and from the CIS” dragging the industry to a “depressing five percent deficit on last year’s activity.” According to a press release, “The standoff with Russia explains the 35 percent fall in flights from Europe to the CIS so far this year.” Statistics covered the first quarter of 2015.
Lowlights from the previously robust routes from Russia to Western Europe, often filled with wealthy travelers who spent freely on luxury hotels, watches, jewelry and fashion, include a 26.7 percent drop between Russia and Germany for March. Between Russia and France, March marked the eighth month in the past 10 with negative growth. That includes a three consecutive month losing streak. Departures to the Gallic state fell to 239 in the month, down 18.2 percent, yet somewhat better than January, the worst month with a 24.6 percent drop.
Previous research on lifestyle spending by private jet travelers shows an arrival by private jet brings an average of $69,000 in luxury and lifestyle purchases to the place being visited. This excludes expenses such as jet fuel and landing fees. Looking at France, with a decline of 154 arrivals during the first three months, means about $10 million in lost revenue for hotels, restaurants, stores and businesses that serve high-end consumers.
If there is a connection between private jet activity and luxury spending, there were some bright spots. Activity for March in Finland jumped 19 percent, while Spain saw 11.1 percent growth and Portugal realized a 10.1 percent increase. Overall, France saw a 5.9 percent uptick while Great Britain, often associated as a hot spot for oligarchs, had a 6.4 percent gain. WINGX pointed to flights between Europe and the “burgeoning” United States as a strong area.