Tips on Picking an Airport in Madrid, Spain for Business Aviation

> | May 15, 2012 | 1 Comment
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Madrid offers two airports for business aircraft: Torrejon (LETO) and Barajas (LEMD). Most operators choose Torrejon (LETO) due to the size of their aircraft. However, depending on your trip, Barajas (LEMD) may be your only option, as it is able to accommodate after-hours’ operations, as well as large General Aviation (GA) aircraft. If you are planning a trip to Madrid, here is some information to help you choose which airport is best for you.

1. What airports are available in Madrid for GA?

LETO is the preferred choice for GA, but only aircraft up to 50 tons (100,000 pounds) maximum takeoff weight are accepted. Aircraft over this weight must operate to LEMD. LEMD is a 25-minute (14-kilometer [km]) drive to downtown, while LETO is 35 minute (22-kilometer ) on the same highway, National Highway 2. LEMD is a busy commercial airport, while LETO is reserved only for GA and military operations.

2. What are the operating hours and restrictions for both airports?

LEMD is open 24 hours a day, while LETO is available 0600-2400 local. Noise restrictions are in place at LEMD, but there are currently no published noise restrictions at LETO. LEMD has four runways, no GA tarmac and taxi time for landing and departure of about 25 minutes. However, all tarmacs at LETO are available to GA, and taxi time averages only about five minutes. Hangar space is not available at LETO and is extremely limited to just the Iberia hangar at LEMD. Note that aircraft parking is much less expensive at LETO. For example, it costs about 500 Euros to park a Gulfstream V for 24 hours at LEMD, but only about 75 Euros at LETO. For extended aircraft parking, 95% of operators go to LETO. LEMD is, however, a good second option if you’re running late with an estimated time of arrival after midnight.

3. Are landing permits necessary for Spain?

Private (non-revenue) operators do not need landing permits, but charter (non-schedule commercial) operators do require permits. Permit lead time is four days, and required documentation includes airworthiness, registration and noise (for LEMD) certificates. After four charter landings in Spain (regardless of when they took place), an operator must accredit itself with additional documents. For example, you will have to provide a security plan that’s been issued, approved or accepted by your home country’s aviation authority.

4. Are airport slots or Prior Permissions Required (PPRs) needed for these airports?

None of these airports requires a PPR. However, both airports require airport slots, and we recommend that operators request them as soon as a firm schedule is known. The airport slot deviation at LETO is -5 minutes / +10 minutes, while at LEMD it is -10 minutes / +10 minutes. If an aircraft arrives in Madrid after LETO closes, crew will have to land at LEMD. If no departure airport slots are available from LEMD, crew will need to reposition to LETO for departure. Aircraft are authorized to reposition from LEMD to LETO 0500-0600 and 2300-2359 local. Your ground handler or 3rd-party provider can help provide the latest information.

5. What are customs clearance procedures for crew and passengers?

LETO has an exclusive security gate where customs can be cleared without delay. However, at LEMD, you’ll clear customs at Terminal 4, and there may be delays. For both airports, a general declaration will be required, and landing cards are necessary if you’re arriving from a non-European Union (EU) country. Customs clearance will be expedited if you send information in advance so that your ground handler can pre-prepare landing cards. EU rules apply for customs/immigration and quarantine processes for crew and passengers. At LEMD, the aircraft parking area is quite a distance from Terminal 4, where you’ll clear customs. At LETO, however, you’ll park very close to the security/customs gate. Your ground handler will look after transporting passengers and luggage from aircraft to the customs gate or terminal. On-board customs clearance is not possible at either airport. Charges associated with customs are included in landing fees and not paid separately.

6. Are there any agricultural regulations that may impact catering?

Generally, you’ll be permitted to offload catering from your aircraft in Spain. However, it’s best to check in advance with your local ground handler, as regulations can change at a moment’s notice.

7. Is in-flight catering available at both airports?

LEMD has two in-flight caterers available. An in-flight caterer is available at LETO, and arrangements can be made to have catering re-positioned to LEMD as needed. While catering menus are available, the caterer at LETO is able to prepare requests that aren’t on the menu.

8. Any tips on ground transportation?

We recommend use of prepaid local transport (with drivers) while in Spain, and your ground handler can set this up. Rental car facilities are available at LEMD Terminal 2, and rental cars can be delivered (for a fee from the rental car company) to LETO. Transportation vendors are not currently permitted to pick up/drop off planeside, but there are efforts underway so that this may one day be an option.

9. Are there security issues to be aware of?

Spain is quite safe, and both Madrid airports are very well secured. Private security is not permitted to enter either airport. Also, local airport security and surveillance are very reliable in our experience.

Conclusion

Operating into Madrid is relatively straightforward. To expedite your arrival process and keep it smooth, it’s best to work with your ground handler in advance. An experienced 3rd-party provider can also help. Few issues arise in Madrid. However, if you’re running late to LETO, be prepared to reposition to LEMD.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact me at gonzalobarona@universalaviation.aero.

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About

With more than three decades of experience in business aviation and ground support, Gonzalo Barona, Managing Director, Universal Aviation Spain, is an expert on all aspects of operations to Spain. Gonzalo, who is based in Madrid, has been with Universal since the 1970s and has coordinated ground support and logistics for thousands of operations in that time.

Gonzalo can be reached at gonzalobarona@universalaviation.aero.

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