2014 Winter Games Update – Part 1: Client Categories, Airport Slots, Russian Landing Permits, and Visas
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The Winter Games take place February 7-23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Business aircraft operators should anticipate a range of operational challenges for Sochi (URSS) – including minimal aircraft parking; Customs, Immigrations, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance; and hotel availability, as well as limitations on aircraft services. Further clarification on requirements is being received, and we will update you accordingly. If you and/or your clients anticipate attending the busy Winter Games events, it’s best to begin the planning process now and submit schedules to your 3rd-party provider immediately.
The following is an overview of the latest updates:
1. Client category considerations
Authorities in Russia have outlined client categories that determine the ability of operators to travel to URSS during the Winter Games. Specifically, each category determines the priority in receiving airport slots and aircraft parking:
- Client Category 1: Marketing partners, athletes and their families, sport federations of the Olympic Committee/government, and heads of state
- Client Category 2: International and domestic scheduled charter flights
- Client Category 3: International and domestic non-scheduled charter flights
- Client Category 4: International and domestic non-scheduled charter flights transporting cargo
- Client Category 5: All other operations
Note: Client Categories 1 and 4 will have priority over all other client categories. It’s quite possible that operators in all of the other categories may not obtain airport slots and aircraft parking for their desired schedule.
2. Airport slots and correlation with Russian landing permits
As of November 11, 2013, a special Slot Allocation Committee was created to handle slot applications received for URSS to date. At this time, most submissions for airport slot confirmations have been granted to VVIP clients. Expect to receive your airport slot confirmation at least 10 business days after submitting your request. If you’ve not already submitted your schedule for URSS, please do so immediately so that your airport slots can be processed. Depending on the purpose of your flight, additional priority may be assigned to the request processed by the Slot Allocation Committee.
Once airport slots are confirmed, they will be valid for -/+ 30 minutes of the confirmed arrival/departure time. The validity period will be strictly enforced, and this has the potential to cause issues/cancellations with any down-line Russian legs that an operator may already have confirmed. Please note that URSS usually confirms aircraft parking and airport slots at the same time. If a slot confirmation is received, this usually means that parking is confirmed as well. Russian navigators, when required, will be assigned on a case-by-case basis. At this time, however, a Russian navigator will not be a requirement in cases of international routes/airports. Should a navigator be deemed necessary, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will advise and assign one accordingly.
Airport slots must be confirmed before landing permission is granted. Slot confirmation comes in the form of an e-mail communication. No slot confirmation number will be provided. It’s important that all airport slot requests be submitted for processing immediately, as Russian landing permits will not be confirmed until airport slots have been approved.
3. Information required for Russian landing permits
The following information is needed in order to request a Russian landing permit:
Detailed Purpose of Flight (POF)
The standard POF, which is usually private business flight or private non-commercial flight and generally submitted for Russia landing permit requests, will not be accepted for this event. Operators must provide full information pertaining to the client’s relationship to the Winter Games.
Full crew and passenger manifest
A full crew and passenger manifest is required for all flights concerning visitors, spectators, and participants associated with the Winter Games.
Full schedule for all operations within Russia
This schedule must include departure and destination points outside of Russia.
Standard documents normally required when requesting Russian landing permits
For a full list of documents, please see our article titled, "Coming Soon: Russian Landing Permit Changes – Effective May 30, 2013."
4. Current status for URSS
At this time, most URSS venues and facilities are still in the construction process. The Olympic Committee is currently busy with the final stages of building new sports venues in coastal and mountain areas. Meanwhile, transport infrastructure in Sochi is undergoing a major facelift. A new rail system will connect the coastal and mountain areas. The good news is that construction projects associated with the event are nearing 70% completion.
5. Visas and CIQ updates
All crew members and passengers must have valid Russian visas prior to arrival. Operators should start arranging a business visa for the Winter Games period now, as we have been advised that this process could take up to two months. It is highly recommended that you obtain a multiple entry visa, as this will allow you more freedom should you need to enter/exit Russia multiple times. It will not be possible to arrange visas on arrival at URSS or any of the alternate airports within Russia.
At this time, arrival and departure CIQ clearance will be available in URSS at the main terminal and at the VIP lounge for operators in ALL client categories. This facility can handle up to 80 GA passengers per hour. Due to high demand and traffic, operators should expect lengthy clearance delays upon arrival if planning to clear CIQ in the VIP terminal. At this time, costs and lounge details have not been provided.
It is very important to note that partners, Olympic Committee members, participants and family members will have priority over all other flights. As for humanitarian and air ambulance flights, there have been no special requirements currently put in place. Delays upon arrival should be expected, whether you are clearing at the main terminal or the VIP lounge.
Be aware that numerous operational challenges have the potential to complicate your operation to URSS depending upon the nature of your specific operation/client category.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers operational considerations for the Winter Games.