This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is Managing Director for Universal Aviation France, which has an aircraft ground handling facility in Paris, Le Bourget. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in France and continues from our last article: "Tips on Permits/PPRs for France."
Airport congestion exists in France, particularly during special event periods, and airport slot planning can become important during pre and active trip phases. For business aircraft operators, best practice is to be aware of airport slot windows and to request and revise airport slots with the assistance of a qualified 3rd-party provider. Here are some tips to help you with your planning:
1. Be aware of airport slot requirements
Airport slots are required at many airports in France and seem to be becoming the norm due to increased traffic to the region. Certain airports only issue slots during special event periods. For this reason, it’s best to request airport slots as early as possible. Many airports have their own websites for processing airport slot requests, but operators generally do not have direct access to these sites and will need ground handler assistance. Some airport authorities want all airport slot requests via SITA in a special format, and the airport slot coordinator will reply via SITA. There’s no difference in requesting airport slots for private, charter or scheduled commercial operations.
2. Airport slot request lead times vary
Airport slot request lead times vary depending on location. Some locations require 24-48 hours advance notification. It’s always best to provide as much notification as possible. Short-notice airport slot requests will likely experience delays or denials, depending on airport congestion and the local parking situation. The airport slot coordinator will approve slots, but in some cases, you may not be informed of your airport slot until close to the day of operation.
3. Scheduled commercial operators often have airport slot priority
Most airport authorities in France give airport slot priority to scheduled commercial operations. This can be an issue at busy airports such as Nice (LFMN), where there can be high traffic volume during major events such as the Cannes Film Festival. Medevac, or air ambulance, flights are typically given airport slot priority, and some diplomatic flights (if a head of state is onboard) also have priority. As Le Bourget, Paris (LFPB) is almost exclusively dedicated to general aviation; "airport slot priority" is seldom an issue at this location.
4. Understand airport slot revision options and costs
Airport slot validity times vary by airport and some locations are more flexible with airport slot deviations than others. Airport slots are required for tech stops at airports with slots in place and have the same deviation window. Be sure to add the slot confirmation number, if applicable, to remarks section 18 of your flight plan. While airport slot coordinators do not charge for airport slots, ground handlers may charge a small fee to set them up.
5. Additional Reading
- Intro to Airway Slots in Europe, Eurocontrol, and the NM
- Managing Airway Slots and Slot Delays in Europe
When operating to busy locations with airport slots, such as LFMN, it’s best to try to keep to your planned schedule. Last-minute airport slot revisions are usually doable but can cause delays. If an airport slot revision becomes necessary, your ground handler will be able to help coordinate the required change.
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Category : Best Practice
About Sandrine Jackson
Universal Aviation France Managing Director Sandrine Jackson has nearly 25 years’ experience with Universal and is an expert on operations in France. Under Sandrine’s leadership, Universal Aviation’s Paris location at Le Bourget is consistently ranked in industry surveys as one of Europe’s best FBOs. Sandrine, who is based in Paris, first joined Universal in 1989. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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