Tips for Business Aircraft Operations to the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix
This is a post by author Edmond Yuen. Edmond is Head of Trip Support Services, Asia-Pacific, for Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., located in Hong Kong. Edmond is an expert on business aircraft operations in Asia and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This year’s Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix will be held April 12-14 at the Shanghai International circuit. Shanghai sees a lot of traffic for this event, and demand for business aviation and other travel- related services will run high. Best options, in terms of aircraft parking and hotel accommodations, will be available to those who book as early as possible.
1. Consider these three airports for the Chinese Grand Prix
Closest airport to the Grand Prix is Hongqiao, Shanghai (ZSSS), and it’s approximately a 30-minute drive to the circuit. Other good options include Pudong, Shanghai (ZSPD), a 50-minute drive, and Xiaoshan, Hangzhou (ZSHC), an approximately 2.5-hour drive to the circuit. All three are airports of entry (AOEs).
2. ZSSS is closest to the venue
ZSSS operates 24 hours, with peak commercial airline activity between 0800-2200 local. Customs and immigration are available 24 hours. As traffic volume will be elevated over this period, it’s recommended that you request aircraft parking early. Be aware that Civil Aviation Authority China (CAAC) implements strict flow controls for ZSSS. Only 10 movements for business aviation aircraft are permitted between 0800-2200 local. In addition, only one arrival or departure slot will be issued per aircraft per day during peak hours. This means that aircraft can’t arrive and depart during peak hours on the same day. Airport slot deviation is +/- 15 minutes, and all confirmations are provided in UTC time. When you receive a landing permit from CAAC, this also serves as your airport slot confirmation. All ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged on credit with prior arrangement. Major airports in China maintain security 24 hours, and airfield security services are strictly controlled by the airport authority. No other companies or organizations, other than the airport authority ,are permitted to provide airside or aircraft security.
3. ZSPD is another good option
ZSPD is an AOE with normal operating hours 0700-2359 local. Peak hours for airline movements are 0800-2200 local. Between 0001-0700 local, the airport is open only for emergency and government flights. Special permission is required for general aviation (GA) movements during this time period, and it’s not recommended to plan operations during these peak times. As with ZSSS, CAAC implements strict flow control at ZSPD. Only 10 business aviation movements are allowed between 0800-2200 local, and only one arrival or departure slot will be issued per aircraft per day. Be mindful that aircraft cannot arrive and depart during peak hours on the same day. CAAC issues airport slots via the landing permit process with slot deviation -/+ 30 minutes (given in UTC). Credit for ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged in advance.
4. ZSHC is located farther from the circuit and isn’t recommended for GA
Although ZSHC is available 24 hours, commercial flights normally operate between 0700-2359 local. Between 0001-0700 local, the airport is open for emergency and government flights. It’s not recommended for business operators to travel to ZSHC during 0001-0700 due to the restrictions, and special operating permission must be obtained. Airport slots and PPRs are not required for ZSHC. Ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged in advance on credit.
5. Landing permits are needed for all flights to China
CAAC requires lead time of at least five working days for both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights landing at any location in China. While it’s often possible to obtain a landing permit within the lead time, it’s at the discretion of CAAC. It’s important to note that CAAC may reject multiple permit or slot revision requests, so it’s best to avoid making too many changes to the schedule. For additional information, please see Jimmy Young’s article titled “13 Things to Know About Overflight and Landing Permits in China.”
6. Consider hotel and local transport arrangements as early as possible
ZSSS and ZSPD have good selections of 4- and 5-star hotels (including large international hotel chains) available. ZSHC has fewer hotel options, but you can follow these tips for arranging hotels in low-availability situations if ZSHC is your planned arrival. Best practice is to book 4- or 5-star hotel crew accommodations as early as possible, due to high demand during Chinese Grand Prix period. If you’re not familiar with the area, avoid rental vehicles, due to traffic issues and possible road closures during the event period. Pre-paid local transport (car with driver) is the preferred option for many business aircraft operators, and your ground handler will be able to make these arrangements.
7. Additional operating tips for China
For additional insights, we’ve covered this topic of business aircraft operations into China in depth on this blog.
8. More on the race
More information on the Chinese Grand Prix and Shanghai circuit, including race dates, schedules and ticket purchase options, can be found on the Formula 1 Web site.
While we do not anticipate aircraft parking to be an issue in the Shanghai area during the Chinese Grand Prix period, there will be limitations in terms of preferred hotel accommodations. Best practice is to begin confirming all arrangements – from permits to required airport slots and support services such as hotels and prepaid local transportation – as soon as your schedule to Shanghai is known.
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