Tips on Airport Operations for France: Fuel, Additional Services and Security
This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in France and continues from our last article: "Tips on Airport Operations for France – Ground Handling."
For business aircraft operations in France, pre-arranging fuel and 4th-party services are particularly important when operating on weekends or flying to smaller regional airports. While airport security is good across the country, certain services, amenities and credit may be limited at smaller locations.
1. What’s the process for obtaining jet fuel in France?
When operating to France, it’s best to pre-arrange jet fuel uplifts and have your ground handler re-confirm those arrangements. If you plan on making a very early morning departure, it’s best to fuel on arrival or the day before departure, as some fuelers do not begin operations until 0600 local. Some airports have a selection of aviation fuel providers, including Shell, Total, Esso, ExxonMobil and Air BP, but smaller airfields may only have one fueler available. Posted prices often change daily.
2. Is fuel credit always available?
Many locations in France accept aviation fuel cards, but certain smaller locations may want a fuel release. Some fuelers in France accept credit cards and/or cash. Cash payments must be in Euros, and there’s usually a limit as to how much cash will be accepted for fuel payment (3000 Euros, for example). Always advise your ground handler in advance of desired fuel quantity, particularly for larger uplifts, so that the correct type of fuel truck meets your flight. Fuel tickets indicate volume in liters. If you’re a charter operator, always show your Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and ensure that the fuel ticket states “exempt" before signing, in order to exempt the value added tax (VAT).
3. What’s the average turnaround time for a tech stop?
At major airports such as Le Bourget Paris (LFPB), the turnaround time will usually be between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on traffic, peak hours and volume of fuel required. Always request that the fuel truck has sufficient fuel quantity on standby and let your fueler know if you require fuel testing prior to delivery. Turnaround service may be slower at regional airports even if fuel has been prearranged, as scheduled commercial flights take priority. Passengers may remain on board during fuel uplift in France.
4. Are rental car facilities available at all airports?
Rental cars are available in main terminals or near the airport. Your ground handler will coordinate rental vehicles for you, so making arrangements in advance is recommended.
5. Can in-flight catering be sourced at all airports?
It’s best to provide at least 24 hours’ advance notice of in-flight catering requirements, particularly if departing on a weekend. Keep in mind that while in-flight caterers may be available Sundays and holidays, their suppliers may not be. If you require special ingredients or particular wines, it’s best to get requests in early. At smaller regional airports in France, you’ll usually source in-flight catering from restaurants or hotels. Catering will need to be brought through airport security when operating out of smaller airports without established in-flight caterers, so consider quantity limitations on liquids. For this reason, it’s best to check with your ground handler in advance to re-confirm the amounts permitted. For example, at LFPB, those restrictions aren’t in place.
6. Can transportation vendors pick up and drop off planeside?
Planeside pickup is possible at LFPB, on arrival only, if the transportation company has specific permission from the airport authority. Planeside drop off at LFPB is only possible for official diplomatic flights. Pick up/drop off planeside is not possible at smaller regional airports.
7. Is airport security adequate?
All airports are properly fenced, with armed airport police and/or military police. Security cameras exist at some airports, and French customs officers are also armed. Therefore, hiring additional security for your aircraft is not recommended. Private armed guards are not permitted on the ramp, but arranging for a guard with a dog is possible when working with approved security providers.
8. What’s required to gain airport access?
For crew members, a crew ID is all that’s needed to gain ramp access. Airport authorities normally require 72 hours’ notice to arrange an airport pass for other personnel, such as an aviation maintenance technician. Your ground handler can assist with this and must escort the individual at all times ramp-side.
9. What’s the procedure at the airport on day of operations?
When passengers arrive, they’ll clear security for departure, and the ground handler will assist with luggage. No pictures or fingerprinting are necessary for arrival or departure. Crew will clear security prior to departure and any time they wish to gain ramp access. For tech stop purposes, in France, no customs clearance is needed.
Consider your planned destinations in France in terms of available services, costs and customs clearance procedures. LFPB is an easy and straightforward operating environment. Some airports can be challenging in terms of weekend fuel availability and long-term parking costs, while smaller regional airfields in France offer limited services and amenities. Work with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider to confirm notification requirements for 3rd- and 4th-party services.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later we’ll discuss permit and PPR considerations for France and their impact on your trip.