2014 Winter Games Update – Part 2: Fueling, Handling, and Other Operational Considerations
This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, titled: "2014 Winter Games Update – Part 1: Client Categories, Slots and Russian Landing Permits, and Visas."
If you are a business aircraft operator planning on flying into Sochi for the Winter Games, expect delays, aircraft parking restrictions, and the need to use alternate airports. Your 3rd-party provider, and ground handler, will be your most valuable resources in terms of successfully delivering your clients to the Winter Games.
The following is an overview of the operational updates:
1. Delays upon arrival
Whether you’re clearing at the main or VIP terminal, note that there will be strict adherence to ground time allowances. If you’re approved for only two hours on the ground, and the CIQ process is delayed (for example, requiring three hours), you’ll need to leave URSS at the two-hour point. No extensions will be granted.
2. Aircraft fueling considerations for URSS
The following should be taken into consideration when planning to uplift fuel at Sochi (URSS):
- Expect fueling delays due to heightened traffic during this period.
- General Aviation (GA) will not be permitted to uplift fuel at URSS.
- Based on aircraft parking and traffic at the airport, fuel may not always be ready and available for arriving/departing aircraft.
- Clients in Categories 1 and 4 (see our previous blog post for information on Client Categories), as well as scheduled airlines, will have first priority for fuel.
- There’s no central fuel or hydrant fuel system at URSS.
- If you’re permitted to uplift fuel, ensure that you provide fuel uplift volume in advance.
- Aviation fuel at URSS is TS-1. Jet A-1 will most likely not be available. Please check your operations specifications manual before uplifting TS-1.
- Only three working fuel trucks will be available to service all arriving/departing aircraft. International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Head of State operations will always take priority.
- When calculating fuel burn, take into consideration possible taxi and holding area delays on arrival and departure.
- At times, an alternate airport landing may be recommended by Air Traffic Control (ATC) due to ceremonial procedures and possible airport closures.
- Always carry sufficient fuel to proceed to your next destination.
- Consider uplifting fuel on arrival if you are making such arrangements.
3. Ground handler considerations
There’s only one approved handler at URSS: International Airport Sochi Authorities. Expect ground handling costs here to be somewhat higher than at other Russian airports. Always confirm credit arrangements for fuel and services in advance. While Russian de-icing fluids will be available at URSS, be aware that there may be de-icing service delays during the Winter Games period. Scheduled commercial carriers, and clients in Categories 1 and 4, will always be given ground handling and de-icing priority.
4. Aircraft parking restrictions
Aircraft parking will not be available at URSS other than for government aircraft and aircraft carrying IOC officials (Client Category 1). For other GA operations, expect a maximum of two hours on the ground for drop-offs/pickups. Keep in mind that URSS was designed to handle 75 movements per day. The airport authority projects at least 200 movements per day during the week before the start of the games (February 7-14).
5. Alternate airports
Official alternate is Krasnodar (URKK), and this airport has only 50 aircraft parking spaces. Other alternates are Stavropol (URMT) and Rostov (URRR). Gelendshik (URKG) may also be considered as a parking alternate. However, it’s not an airport of entry, and a Russian navigator is required when operating to this location. Overnights may also be considered at Anapa (URKA) and Mineralnyye Vody (URMM). There are other alternates that are further out to consider, but it’s best to contact your 3rd-party provider on feasibility of using these alternates.
6. Hotel and local transport limitations
All Sochi-area hotel rooms have been blocked by the IOC. If you require hotel accommodations at any alternate location, it’s recommended that you begin making arrangements as soon as possible.
There will be only accredited state federal vehicles available at URSS. No private buses or rented cars will be permitted at URSS, and this policy will be strictly monitored by the IOC and the Federal Security Service of Russia. Absolutely no helicopters will be allowed to operate into URSS. Should your client wish to use the boat dock to enter into URSS, please refer them to the Port of Sochi website for more information.
If you’re not operating a government/diplomatic flight, or carrying members of the IOC, there will be a range of pre-trip planning and day-of-operation challenges to consider. While there’s always a way to achieve your objective — in terms of delivering passengers to the Winter Games – preferred airport slot, aircraft parking, and hotel accommodation options will be virtually impossible for shorter-notice requests.
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