Private flying plummeted in March as the Covid-19 virus took hold in the U.S.

According to the private aviation intelligence company Argus, on-demand charter flights dropped by 25% year over year in March. The overall number of private flights was down 31.7% year over year.

The major drop came after March 10, when Covid-19 cases began to surge in the U.S., to be followed shortly by shelter-in-place orders. Through that time, private flight operations had been down just 5% from March 2019.

The Argus data tells a different story than anecdotal accounts offered last month by some private jet charter companies, which reported big boosts in business through the first half of March. The companies said they got the boosts as countries began imposing international travel restrictions and because of the relative safety from the Covid-19 virus that the spacious confines of business jets and private air terminals afford in comparison to their commercial counterparts.

Still, Argus expected even sharper declines in private flying this month as shelter-in-place orders linger.

In an April 9 forecast the company predicted private aircraft activity would be down 67.3% from last April. 

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