This is a post by author Isabelle Canton. Isabelle is the senior Universal Aviation representative – south of France for Universal Aviation France, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Paris, Le Bourget, and Le Castellet. Isabelle is an expert on business aircraft operations in southern France and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to the Cannes area during the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix.
The French Riviera comes alive again this May with the Cannes Film Festival May 11-22 and Monaco Grand Prix May 26-29. Unlike previous years, when the two iconic events occurred at virtually the same time, they are spread out a little this time around. While this could ease the aircraft parking and hotel accommodation situation somewhat, it’s best to make plans early to take advantage of preferred options.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Operating challenges
The Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix are both very large and popular events drawing general aviation (GA) traffic from all over the world. As aircraft parking in the area is limited, and has tended to reach capacity over recent years, it’s important to work on obtaining airport slots, aircraft parking, and crew accommodations as early as possible. While we know that the Cannes-to-Monaco section of the French Riviera will be very busy over this period, it’s hard to predict what the actual level of GA arrivals and movements will be. This is because it only takes one or two very large entourages of guests to completely alter the parking situation. In general, parking at Nice (LFMN) tends to completely fill up at certain points over the event period. Busiest days are anticipated to be the second week of the Cannes Festival through to the end of the Monaco Grand Prix.
2. Primary airports
Preferred airports for these events are LFMN and Cannes (LFMD). Both are airports of entry (AOE) with full GA support services. While LFMD has restricted hours of operation, it’s a GA-only airport, well positioned for the Cannes Film Festival venue and where parking availability was seldom an issue in the past.
3. LFMD considerations
LFMD operates 0800 local to 30 minutes past sunset seven days a week with no airport overtime possible. The runway is 5282 feet, and the allowable maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) here increased from 25 to 35 tons as of November 2015. So, you’re limited to about the size of a Gulfstream G450. Ample parking is usually available at LFMD, and in the past, it was rare for GA aircraft to be turned away due to lack of parking. However, as this is the first year LFMD is able to accept larger aircraft, parking may become an issue. Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) at LFMD is processed in the terminal and only takes 5-10 minutes to clear. Be mindful that pilots must receive a mandatory airport briefing, on the airport approach, prior to operating to LFMD. More information on this requirement can be found online. Operators who do not adhere to the airport briefing requirement may be fined by airport authorities.
4. LFMN considerations
LFMN is a 24-hour AOE with a 9711 foot runway and a general aviation terminal (GAT). CIQ clearance takes place within the GAT but only until 2000 local. After 2000 local you’ll normally clear within the main terminal unless CIQ officers, at their discretion, decide to come over to the GAT. Note that during the summer the GAT normally closes at 2100 local as opposed to 2000 local, but authorities haven’t confirmed this seasonal change at this time.
5. Alternate airports
Two alternates to consider, if parking becomes an issue at LFMN and/or LFMD, are Le Castellet (LFMQ) and Genoa (LIMJ). LIMJ is closer to the Monaco Grand Prix venue while LFMQ is in closer proximity to the Cannes Film Festival. LIMJ is a 24-hour AOE with 24/7 CIQ available and plenty of parking. While LFMQ is not an AOE, you may be able to arrange special arrival clearance with advance notification. It’s generally not a problem to arrive and depart LFMQ on international legs from outside the European Union (EU), but you will not normally receive an EU entry stamp. Therefore, operators may face issues if continuing on from LFMQ to another EU destination, as you will not have technically cleared into the Schengen zone. Note that due to the state of emergency in place for France through mid-July, 48 hours’ notice is needed for all non-domestic flights to/from LFMQ.
6. Handling requests
Handling for operations during the Film Festival and Grand Prix period should be requested as soon as possible. It’s best to provide your ground handler with full schedule, aircraft information, crew and passenger details, and ground services needed so that support arrangements can be coordinated and day of operation delays avoided.
These two events attract heavy traffic every year. In the past, these two events overlapped each other, but that’s not the case this year. However, services will be in high demand, so arrangements need to be made in advance. While LFMD has never filled up in the past, in terms of GA parking availability during the Cannes and Monaco events, the situation may be different this year as larger aircraft are now permitted into this location. We recommend having contingency plans in place, for alternate parking in case both primary airports fill up.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers airport slots, prior permissions required, and local area information.
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If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to southern France, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Isabelle Canton
Isabelle Canton is senior Universal Aviation representative – south of France. With 19 years’ experience in the industry – most of that involved with General Aviation (GA) in the south of France – Isabelle describes her role as a mix between a handling agent and a concierge. With her extensive knowledge of this important and often challenging part of the world, Isabelle is a valuable resource in optimizing all facets of a client trip to the region. Prior to joining Universal Aviation, she worked in the Paris area as a charter airline and crew scheduling representative and then spent the next 16 years as a GA handling agent in the south of France. Isabelle can be reached at email@example.com.
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