UPDATE: Regulatory Changes for Greece: New GA Airport Slot Requirements

> | August 31, 2015 | 0 Comments
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UPDATE: Regulatory Changes for Greece: New GA Airport Slot Requirements

This is a post by author Dimitra Kiriakopoulou. Dimitra is the operations and customer care director for Universal Aviation Greece – Athens, which has an aircraft ground-handling facility in Athens. Dimitra is an expert on business aircraft operations in Greece and can be contacted at dimitrakiriakopoulou@universalaviation.aero.

Effective July 2015, airport slots became mandatory for operation to many airports in Greece. While airport slots have always been required for scheduled commercial traffic – for both arrival and departure – they were not needed for General Aviation (GA). The impact of this sudden regulatory change is complicating GA trip planning and adding a level of complexity for operators.

Below is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Background on regulatory changes

In September 2014 the Greek slot conference committee decided to add airport slot requirements for GA, and this was officially implemented in July 2015. Currently, these requirements apply only to GA operations at Level 3 airports in Greece. Note that some airports in Greece change category depending on the season. For example an airport may be Level 1 during winter months but Level 3 during summer high season. A list of Greek airports requiring slots can be found on the Hellenic Slot Coordination Authority website.

2. Purpose of new slot requirements

The purpose of introducing GA slot requirements is to reduce operational delays at high-traffic airports such as Mikonos (LGMK). Many smaller, popular, high-traffic locations have limited ramp space and deal with high volumes of traffic, restricted operating hours, and limited parking availability. In addition to new GA slot requirements, notices to airmen are often issued to restrict time on the ground during peak-season traffic, and this often pushes aircraft to relocate to alternate airfields such as Athens (LGAV), where airport slot requests are not needed and there is ample parking.

3. Airport slot requirements

Because airport slot requirements – for both arrival and departure – are now in effect for GA operations at all Level 3 airports, GA operators are now competing with scheduled commercial operators for the same slots. However, scheduled commercial operations take priority. While commercial operators may request slots months in advance, the earliest GA can request an airport slot is 28 days prior to the estimated time of arrival or departure.

4. Slot requests

Slots may be requested via the slot coordinator, and this office operates Monday-Friday, 0830-1630 local. Outside these hours slots may be requested directly from airport authorities. Airport slot requests will only be considered after an operator obtains Prior Permission Required (PPR) – even in cases of drop-and-goes and/or technical stops.

5. Slot request format

Airport slot requests for Greece must always be submitted in General Aviation Clearance Request (GCR) format. Information that must be submitted for airport slot requests includes:

  • Registration or flight number
  • Date of operation
  • Number of seats
  • International Civil Aviation Organization aircraft type
  • Origin/destination
  • Arrival/departure time in UTC
  • Services requested
  • Parking authorization number (PPR confirmation number)
  • Ground handling agent

Turnaround time for requests varies depending on the airport and available manpower. Note that, if there’s an error with your GCR slot request or format, the slot coordinator will advise that there’s an issue with the request, but he/she will not necessarily tell you what the error is. The operator and ground handler will need to identify the filing error and correct it.

6. PPR requirements

When you operate to Greece, PPRs – when required – should be requested as soon as schedule is known. Be mindful that PPR confirmations must be provided with GA airport slot requests, or your slot request will not be processed.

7. Slot revisions

If your schedule changes, things could become complicated as you’ll need to request both a revision to your PPR and, once this is approved, a new airport slot. Often, you’ll obtain a new PPR and submit this to the slot coordinator only to find that available slots do not accommodate your new PPR time. At this point you’ll need to submit another PPR change and then go back to the slot coordinator for slots at, hopefully, matching times.

8. Slot deviations and missing slot times

Deviation for airport slots in Greece is +/- 20 min. While there are currently no penalties administered for missing slot times, there will likely be in future. If an operator has an approved slot and does not use it, it’s considered a violation if the request is not cancelled with at least 12 hours’ prior notice. Such infractions will likely incur penalties in the future.

9. Slot limitations

While there’s no limit to the number of airport slots you may request for Greece, you’re limited to one airport arrival and one departure slot per day for any particular airport if you’re using the same call sign for each flight leg. For example if your call sign to/from LGMK is “XYZ12,” you’ll need to use a different call sign – perhaps “XYZ15” – if you arrive at or depart from the same airport later the same day. If you do not use a different call sign, your PPR will also be denied. The only exception to this rule is for private aircraft for which the call sign is the aircraft’s registry, in which case you may request multiple slots under these conditions and confirmed slots do not overlap each other.

10. Slot and PPR exceptions

Level 1 airports in Greece do not require airport slots. You’ll need to obtain approval only for parking, and this is done via the airport authority. At this time airport slots are not needed for LGAV as it’s considered a year-round Level 1 airfield due to ample available parking. Additionally, operators do not require PPRs for Thessaloniki (LGTS) and Iraklion (LGIR) as both of these airports also have plenty of available parking. Note that turnarounds of up to two hours are confirmed along with the slot from the slot coordinator, while parking for longer than the two-hour period is approved by the local airport authority after slots have been obtained.

11. Congested airports

The most congested airports in Greece are near popular island destinations – such as LGMK and Santorini (LGSR). They are particularly busy during peak season – summer – and in many cases may have just three to five parking stands, shared by both scheduled commercial and GA aircraft. While the island of Crete is also very popular during summer, the primary airport LGIR usually has parking availability and is able to accommodate both tech stops and overflow parking from surrounding smaller airports.

12. Additional information

Conclusion

It’s important to be aware of new GA airport slot requirements now in place at many popular airports in Greece, along with the need for a PPR when you travel to most Level 3 airports. Be aware that when you operate to busy Level 3 airports such as LGMK, parking will likely never be available during peak season, and you’ll need to reposition. Consider LGAV a primary alternate for overnight parking as no airport slots are needed and parking availability is plentiful.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Greece, contact me at dimitrakiriakopoulou@universalaviation.aero.

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Dimitra Kiriakopoulou is the operations and customer care director for Universal Aviation Greece – Athens. Based in Athens, Dimitra has nearly a decade’s experience in the business aviation industry and with Universal Aviation Greece – Athens. An expert in business aviation operations to Greece, Dimitra is fluent in Greek, Italian, and English. Dimitra can be reached at dimitrakiriakopoulou@universalaviation.aero.

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