Business Aviation Trip Planning: Tokyo International Conference on African Development

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Tokyo International Conference on African Development

This is a post by author Hiroshi Higashiyama. Hiroshi is representative director for Universal Aviation Japan, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Haneda, Narita, Sapporo and Osaka. Hiroshi is an expert on business aircraft operations in Japan and can be contacted at hiroshihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) takes place June 1-3 in Yokohama, west of Tokyo. More than just a conference, TICAD has become a major global framework for Asia and Africa to collaborate in promoting Africa’s development. Due to increased demand for aircraft parking and hotel accommodations during the conference period, business aircraft operators traveling to the Tokyo/Yokohama area need to act without delay in order to secure the most preferred options. Here’s an overview of what you should know:

1. Recommended airports for the event

There are two airport options for this conference – Haneda (RJTT) and Narita (RJAA). Both airports – but particularly RJTT – are expected to be very congested from one to two days prior to the event and up to five days following the conference. The Japanese government expects more than 30 state aircraft and has restricted RJTT aircraft parking assignments for non-conference-related General Aviation (GA) aircraft to a maximum of four parking spots. Each parking spot can accept up to a Gulfstream G550 or Bombardier Global Express (GLEX). Any larger, non-conference aircraft, with wingspans greater than those of G550s or GLEXs, will not be allowed at RJTT during the conference period. Note that no aircraft parking limitations, based on aircraft size, will be imposed at RJAA during the conference period. For that reason, it’s recommended that operators traveling to Tokyo, and not attending this event, operate to RJAA.

2. Consider operating hours and airport requirements

RJTT is available 24 hours, while RJAA is closed 1400-2059 UTC. Stage 2 aircraft are banned from all Japanese airports. RJTT peak commercial hours are 2200-0130, 0700-1159 and 1400-1459 UTC, while RJAA peak times are 2330-0300 UTC. Airport slots for GA movements may be obtained during peak hours on a case-by-case basis.

Airport slots are required at all airports in Japan, but prior permissions required aren’t needed at either of those two airports. One-week’s notice is usually sufficient for airport slots at either RJAA or RJTT; however, you’re less likely to get a requested time of day at RJTT, as airport slot availability is limited. RJAA does not have set limitations on airport slots, but only eight airport slots per day are available for GA at RJTT (a maximum of four slots may be used for arrivals.) Landing permits are not required for private non-revenue flights or tech stops so long as no passengers embark or disembark. Charter (non-schedule commercial) operations require landing permits (known in Japan as operation permits), and these take three business days to process for business trips, assuming all documentation is provided and correct.

3. Consider operating requirements/limitations

Airport slots and confirmations will not be affected by the TICAD event, and no Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) are anticipated to be issued regarding imposed airport restrictions. Airport closures at RJTT and RJAA are not anticipated due to state and diplomatic flight arrivals and departures. For many operators, however, the preferred option may be to operate to RJAA where no special parking restrictions will be implemented. RJAA has had a new General Aviation Terminal (GAT) since March 2012, and use of this facility accelerates the arrival/CIQ clearance process. Note that there is a fee for using the GAT.

4. Know process to obtain aircraft parking at RJTT

If operating to RJTT as a "conference-related" GA flight, you should request permits/airport slots via your embassy, consulate or official government office in Japan. This requires providing full aircraft and operational information, details on crew members and onboard VVIP passengers, as well as the planned ICAO route with entry/exit points to/from Japan FIR.

5. Preferred hotel options are limited

At this point, almost all four- and above star hotels are sold out in both the Yokohama and Tokyo areas. If you’re planning an operation to this area during the time of TICAD, try to reserve accommodations immediately. Due to the sold-out status of most 4- and 5-star hotels, you may have to consider downgrading to 3-star accommodations or, alternatively, staying outside the Tokyo area.

6. Be mindful of other operating tips

Be advised that general security precautions will be strengthened in the Yokohama/Tokyo area during the period of the conference. It’s recommended that you always carry your passport whenever leaving the hotel and avoid approaching or touching any item that may seem suspicious. If you have concerns about even the smallest issues – security-related or otherwise – do not hesitate to contact your ground handler. For more information on this event, please see the TICAD website.

7. Additional information

For more information on Tokyo airports, please see the articles below:

Conclusion

Be prepared for parking restrictions/limitations in place at RJTT, from about May 30 through about June 8 due to TICAD-related GA activity. Particularly for short-notice or last-minute trips to the Tokyo/Yokohama area during the TICAD period, it’s important to begin working with your 3rd-party provider and ground handler as soon as possible.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or operating to Japan, contact me at hiroshihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

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About

Hiroshi “Higashi” Higashiyama, representative director of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, has over 17 years of experience in the aviation industry in ground support and operations and is an expert on operating to Japan. Higashi’s expertise has earned him numerous invitations to speak both domestically and internationally at major industry events and conferences such as the National Business Aviation Association Conference. Higashi, who is based in Tokyo, along with the staff of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, provided around-the-clock services for business aviation clients and humanitarian flights operating into Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. He is also a member of the Japanese Business Aviation Association and works closely with local government officials to help improve business aviation infrastructure, processes, and procedures throughout Japan.

He can be reached at hiroshihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

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