For business aircraft operators, major events around the world – ranging from sporting and film industry events to economic summits and even assorted furniture and yachting trade shows – can complicate international trip planning. As a checklist item, early in the trip planning phase, it’s worthwhile to check with your 3rd-party provider about any major events that may impact your planned destination and how to deal with any associated issues.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Top sporting events around the world
Major sporting events often have a significant impact on General Aviation (GA) traffic, regardless if you are operating to a destination for the event or just happen to be operating to a destination during an event. Examples of such events and the types of situations you need to plan for include:
- The upcoming Winter Games – to be held February 2014 in Sochi– will be complex and restrictive in terms of aircraft parking; services; customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) access; and hotels.
- The 2014 World Cup – in Rio de Janeiro June to July 2014 – will also involve all sorts of planning issues/challenges. At this point, airport slots, prior permissions required (PPRs) and notices to airmen (NOTAMs) are not yet known for the World Cup. Alternate airports will also present issues in terms of hotel accommodations/local transport.
- The Golf Tournament in Augusta (KAGS) also requires airport slots and will generate congestion issues.
- Attending a Formula One Grand Prix venue may involve months of pre-planning – particularly the Monaco Grand Prix, which is held at about the same time as the Cannes Film Festival.
2. Economic summit considerations
- The Davos Economic Forum, held each winter in Switzerland, presents a number of challenges in terms of aircraft parking and hotels. Drop and go’s may be possible, but there may be weather diversion issues to consider, and aircraft parking can fill up at alternate airports. If you have airport slots confirmed and do not use them, you may not be given slots the next year. Larger aircraft may be often more difficult to accommodate during this event period.
- The St. Petersburg Economic Forum. It’s always challenging to arrange airport slots for this annual forum, and slots issued will rarely match requests. Airport delays are common, due to heavy traffic and stepped-up security screening. Aircraft parking and hotels are notoriously difficult to secure during these events, and repositioning to alternate airports could result in additional visa and crew duty issues.
- Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summits and events often involve airport closures and restrictions, as well as crew accommodation challenges.
- The Allen & Company Conference, held each July at Sun Valley (KSUN), also creates airport congestion and parking issues.
3. Airshows, trade shows and film festivals
Airshows – including Farnborough (EGLF), Paris Le Bourget (LFPB) and the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva (LSGG) – always seem to present issues in terms of aircraft parking and hotels. In some cases, you’ll need to make arrangements several months in advance. Hotel accommodations are always one of the larger challenges, and there will likely be issues with alternate airports. At Farnborough in particular, be aware that EGLF is a Stage-4 airport with strict noise restrictions, but there may be exemptions for the airshow period.
Annual auto shows in Tokyo and Germany always draw large crowds and create congestion for GA operators.
Likewise, extreme congestion and accommodation challenges await operators with last-minute plans to attend the Cannes and Venice film festivals – held annually in May and August, respectively.
4. Seasonal holiday destinations
Most destinations along the north coast of the Mediterranean are extremely popular during summer months and require longer planning lead times. Caribbean locations – particularly St Maarten (TNCM) and St Kitts (TKPK) – run out of parking during high season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s). Delays and diversions can be expected, along with fuel shortages. It’s always best to avoid making changes to confirmed parking – even by as little as two hours – and this can cause operational complications.
5. Aircraft parking and airport slot tips
Many locations will not confirm airport slots and aircraft parking until close to day of operation. Even though you may have made parking/slot requests months in advance, confirmation may not occur until three to four weeks prior to the event. During very busy events – including the Davos and St. Petersburg economic forums – it’s often best to utilize your business contacts, at the appropriate destination, to communicate with airport and civil aviation authorities (CAAs). Be considerate, however, of US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act(FCPA) and UK Bribery Act regulations, as it’s imperative that services be arranged in a compliant manner. If your passengers are participating in a particular event, let your 3rd-party provider know, so this information can be forwarded to authorities. For major event periods, always have a backup plan for parking – as well as a Plan C should Plan B not pan out.
6. Hotel/local transport considerations
When operating during times of busy events, it’s best to consider hotel pre-payment and cancellation policies. Crew accommodations may cost several hundred dollars per night and cannot be easily changed. If you need to drop-go-and-reposition, this has the potential to further complicate hotel arrangements and create crew duty issues.
7. Additional considerations
Advance planning is recommended for any additional services you may require – such as Ground Support Equipment (GSE), specialty in-flight catering and specific vehicle requests for local transport. Be aware that, at some locations, larger GA aircraft models may have fewer options than smaller business jets, due to things such as limitation of GSE, aircraft parking, etc.
Also, take a look at events for the upcoming year and make inquiries early and often with your customers about which events they plan to attend. This will help you get a jump on logistics, as well as set realistic expectations for the events in question. A tool you can use is this business aviation planning calendar. In it, you can find dates for major events around the world and when you need to start planning for them.
When operating to a location during a busy major event, it’s best to begin planning arrangements several months, or even a year, in advance. Book hotel accommodations and request services as soon as the schedule is known, and try to avoid schedule revisions. Work closely with your 3rd-party provider to stay informed as to changes/issues that may crop up at planned destinations.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at email@example.com.
About Drew Barnes
Drew Barnes has more than a decade of combined experience working as a corporate dispatcher and in Trip Support Services with Universal. He currently serves as a Customer Experience Coach for the Tango and Zulu Teams and has facilitated more than 16,000 trip legs. A former Dispatch Supervisor for Altria Corporate Services, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris and Kraft Foods) and Manager of Scheduling and Dispatching for Kraft Foods, Drew is known for mirroring his clients’ sense of urgency and using his experience to ensure every detail – from crew scheduling and duty issues to visa requirements and passenger logistics – is handled correctly. Drew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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