BizAv Operations to Hong Kong: Aircraft Ground Handling

> | January 7, 2016 | 0 Comments
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BizAv Operations to Hong Kong: Aircraft Ground Handling

This is a post by author Edmond Yuen. Edmond is head of Trip Support Services, Asia-Pacific, for Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., located in Hong Kong. Edmond is an expert on business aircraft operations in Asia and can be contacted at edmondyuen@univ-wea.com.

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Hong Kong.

In order to travel to Hong Kong (VHHH) business aircraft operators need to ensure that services such as ground handling are arranged in advance. VHHH has a general aviation terminal (GAT) offering full aircraft support services, customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance, fuel uplifts, and credit arrangements. Other items that you will also have to consider when traveling to VHHH are airport slots and parking.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Arranging ground handling

Both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights are handled the same at VHHH. The only flights that are handled differently are large aircraft. The GAT ramp accommodates aircraft up to the size of an Airbus ACJ and Boeing BBJ. Larger or wide-body general aviation (GA) equipment are usually parked farther away in the commercial parking area.

2. Information/documentation required

When requesting ground handling for VHHH, it’s important to provide full schedule and operator information along with complete crew and passenger details. Any particular service requirements – such as belt loaders or catering lift trucks for larger aircraft – should also be specified. Suggested lead time for handling requests is a minimum of six hours.

3. Documentation

Both arrival and departure cards are needed for passengers and crew to enter/leave Hong Kong. Your ground handler will assist in filling out these cards. Note that a gen dec is not required upon arrival. Your handler should, however, provide a gen dec on departure as the next down line destination may require this. Be mindful that certain nationalities of passengers/crew require visas for Hong Kong. Any required visas must be obtained prior to arrival to avoid the risk of the passenger or crew member being deported.

4. Coordinating slots and parking

When operating to VHHH airport slots are the largest concern for operators. The earliest parking may be confirmed is 14 days prior to operation; however, airport slots cannot be obtained more than seven days prior. While you’re able to confirm parking first, know that airport slots are the more difficult challenge and there are times when GA slots are not available for an entire day. Your 3rd-party provider will work directly with the VHHH slot coordinator to organize slots for your flight. Response to your slot request is normally received the same day, if a request is made prior to noon local.

5. Parking arrangements

Parking for VHHH is seldom possible for more than two consecutive days. This is due to high congestion at this location and limited availability of parking. The GAT has its own parking ramp, and all GA flights are normally parked at this location. In addition, there’s hangar space available at the GAT, and this can be arranged for by your handler. Note that parking in hangars can be expensive – about 340 USD per each two hours for a G550 sized aircraft. In addition, aircraft towing fees typically add between 400-600 USD per tow.

6. Schedule revisions

If you must revise your schedule there are issues to consider. Note that when making a request to revise parking you’ll be able to keep your original parking approval. So, if a parking revision request is denied you’ll still have your original parking approval. In terms of ground handling services, short notice schedule changes may cause service delays if other aircraft are already booked at your new requested operating time.

7. Handling and costs

The GAT at VHHH is privately owned and is the only option for GA handling and fueling on the airfield. While fuel on the commercial side of the airport is considerably less expensive, GA operators are not permitted to use this. Cost of handling at VHHH is based on the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW). Ramp and parking fees, meanwhile, are assessed based on wingspan and charged on a six hour basis. Note that parking costs on the GAT ramp are always less expensive than in a hangar. Landing fees and airport taxes are normally paid by your handler and charged back after the fact. You’ll receive one bill covering all charges including: landing fees, handling, CIQ clearance, in-flight catering, and parking. Note that there are no navigation fees payable if you land in Hong Kong, this is only applicable if you overfly the airspace. Operators may request advance estimates for cost of services in Hong Kong. Estimates include all services requested, with any additional items added later being separate costs.

8. Credit arrangements

Your ground handler and/or the GAT can arrange credit on the operator’s behalf, with prior arrangement. If credit arrangements have not been made, operators may pay by cash or credit cards. For fuel uplift the GAT requires a fuel release to be sent in advance. Although no fuel cards are accepted at VHHH, you may pay for your uplift with cash or credit card if no fuel release has been arranged.

9. CIQ clearance

Upon arrival at the VHHH GAT, passengers will either walk (if parked close to the GAT) or be transported to the GAT lounge. They’ll wait in the lounge while ground handling staff collects passports and ensures that arrival cards have been correctly filled out. Meanwhile, GAT staff will bring all luggage in for screening. If you have up to 10 passengers, the clearance process usually takes approximately 15-20 minutes. CIQ officers are brought in from the main terminal for clearing GA arrivals, and your handler will make these arrangements in advance. Be mindful that there’s a cost for CIQ clearance, usually in the range of several hundred USD.

10. Techs stops and drop/goes

If you’re making a drop and go, turnarounds can be accomplished in as little as 20 – 25 minutes, without fuel uplift, and in about an hour if fuel uplift is required. It’s not recommended, however, to use VHHH for technical fuel stops due to limited slot availability and high fuel prices. Better alternatives for tech stops in the area include Macau (VMMC) or Taipei (RCTP).

11. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Hong Kong – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.

Conclusion

When planning a GA flight to VHHH the first and primary focus must be on obtaining a suitable airport slot. Once you have a slot, parking options can be obtained and aircraft handling can be confirmed, even on shorter notice. Note however that parking is seldom available for more than two consecutive days due to high traffic at this airport.

Later, we’ll discuss fuel, security, and additional services for Hong Kong and their impact on your trip.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Hong Kong, contact me at edmondyuen@univ-wea.com.

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An expert on operations to Asia, Edmond Yuen has more than 10 years’ experience in business aviation. Edmond, who currently serves as head of Universal® Trip Support Asia, is based in Hong Kong and is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. Prior to joining Universal, Edmond served eight years as an operations manager for a major Asian charter company. Edmond’s expertise in operations is recognized throughout the business aviation industry, and he is frequently requested to speak on panels at events such as the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exposition, as well as by industry publications. Edmond, who is a private pilot, can be reached at edmondyuen@univ-wea.com

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