This is a post by author Hiroshi Higashiyama. Hiroshi is representative director for Universal Aviation Japan, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Haneda, Narita, Sapporo, and Osaka. Hiroshi is an expert on business aircraft operations in Japan and can be contacted at email@example.com.
The 2015 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix takes place September 25-27 at the Suzuka International Race Course. Practice and qualifying sessions happen that Friday and Saturday with the main race on Sunday. Suzuka race track is located in the countryside, some distance from the nearest airports.
If you are conducting business aircraft operations into the area during this busy period, the following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
Nagoya-Chubu (RJGG) and Nagoya-Aichi (RJNA) are the primary airports for General Aviation (GA) traffic to the race circuit. RJNA is the old Nagoya airport and what most GA operators tend to use in this area. RJGG is a 24/7 Airport of Entry (AOE) with full aircraft support services and credit available. Although RJNA also offers full aircraft support services and credit, it’s only an AOE upon request, with three business days’ notice needed for Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) arrangements. CIQ officers must be brought to RJNA, from the Nagoya seaport, and GA clearance is normally only possible at this location Monday-Friday, 0830-2030 local. Overtime arrangements may be requested, but this is at CIQ’s discretion. Note that there are no charges for CIQ clearance at either RJGG or RJNA, and CIQ is never possible onboard aircraft.
2. Alternate airport option
While we do not anticipate any permit or aircraft parking issues during the Grand Prix period at either RJGG or RJNA, operators may consider Kansai (RJBB) as an alternate. RJBB is a 24-hour AOE with 24/7 CIQ clearance. Airport slots are needed for this location, and slot deviation is +/- 30 minutes.
3. Travel time to Suzuka race track
For estimated ground travel time, plan on one hour and 15 minutes between RJNA and the track, one hour and 30 minutes between RJGG and the race circuit, and two hours and 45 minutes between RJBB and Suzuka. Helicopter transfers may be arranged between RJGG/RJNA and Suzuka – and you’ll be able to land close to the race circuit – but this must be arranged in advance. The easiest helicopter transfer options are from RJNA.
4. RJNA has restrictions to consider
In addition to providing three business days’ notification for CIQ clearance at RJNA, operators must be mindful that schedule changes also require three days’ notice. Therefore, you’ll have less flexibility with sudden- or short-notice schedule changes when operating to RJNA. Also, if you’re operating a larger aircraft – anything over the size of a Gulfstream or Global – without integrated airstairs, it’s best to use RJGG due to lack of availability of aircraft stairs at RJNA.
5. Airport slots
Both RJGG and RJNA require airport slots. In the case of RJGG, slots are generally not an issue and may be obtained as soon as the schedule is known. Airport slots for RJNA, however, can only be obtained up to one month prior and are not confirmed until CIQ clearance has been approved. Note that slot deviations at both RJGG and RJNA are +/- one hour.
6. PPR requirements
Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed only for operations to RJNA. Lead time for PPR requests is three business days, in the case of business flights, and 10 business days for all other flights.
7. Documentation/procedures for CIQ clearance
To clear CIQ in Japan, all passengers and crew members must have valid passports, as well as completed immigration and customs forms. All passengers and crew members are fingerprinted and photographed, as a mandatory procedure, and baggage is inspected by customs. Passengers must have any required visas prior to arrival as it’s not possible to obtain visas upon arrival. For more information on short-stay visas for Japan, see the website for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Note that no visa requirements exist for crew members, regardless of nationality.
8. CIQ clearance at RJGG
At RJGG CIQ clearance usually takes place in the main terminal alongside commercial airline passengers. A separate clearance lane may be available, depending upon airline schedules and clearances. You may request clearance at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), but approval depends on availability of CIQ agents at the time. Main terminal clearance takes 20-30 minutes while GAT clearance is normally about 10 minutes.
9. CIQ clearance at RJNA
CIQ clearance at RJNA is normally available with prior arrangement and is only done at the GAT. CIQ overtime may, however, be negotiated for RJNA (when approved, normally it’s only available Monday-Friday, 0830-2030 local). Plan on approximate clearance times of about 10 minutes for four to five passengers and about 20 minutes for 10 passengers.
10. Peak operating hours
Peak hours of scheduled commercial activity at both airports – RJGG and RJNA – are 0830-1030 and 1700-1900 local. GA slots are available even during peak periods and do not generally hinder GA operations into/out of RJGG and RJNA.
11. In-flight catering options
In-flight caterers are available at both RJGG and RJNA, but crews also have the option of sourcing catering directly from hotels and restaurants. Be advised, however, that many hotel kitchens and restaurants do not provide food for consumption off premises, due to food safety considerations.
12. Hotel and local transport options
There are few hotel options close to the Suzuka circuit, and most of these have been pre-booked for race teams and their sponsors. Best option for accommodations is downtown Nagoya where international chain hotel room pricing is normally about 200-300 USD per night, and likely higher during the race weekend. It’s recommended that crew accommodations be booked as soon as the schedule is known. Best option for the commute between central Nagoya and the race circuit is pre-paid transport (car with driver), but these services are limited and also need to be confirmed as early as possible.
We don’t anticipate any new parking restrictions to go into place, at either RJGG or RJNA, during the Grand Prix period, and we do not foresee parking availability to be a concern. Both airports offer full services to aircraft, but there is limited equipment for large aircraft at RJNA. Also, note that there are few hotels close to the circuit, and you will likely need to stay in downtown Nagoya.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Japan, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Universal is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX, and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing B.V.
About Hiroshi Higashiyama
Hiroshi “Higashi” Higashiyama, representative director of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, has over 17 years of experience in the aviation industry in ground support and operations and is an expert on operating to Japan. Higashi’s expertise has earned him numerous invitations to speak both domestically and internationally at major industry events and conferences such as the National Business Aviation Association Conference. Higashi, who is based in Tokyo, along with the staff of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, provided around-the-clock services for business aviation clients and humanitarian flights operating into Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. He is also a member of the Japanese Business Aviation Association and works closely with local government officials to help improve business aviation infrastructure, processes, and procedures throughout Japan.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
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