This is a post by author Gonzalo Barona, Jr. Gonzalo is the Madrid station manager for Universal Aviation Spain, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Madrid, Girona, and Barcelona. Gonzalo is an expert on business aircraft operations in Spain and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is the first of a two-part blog on traveling to Spain for the Grand Prix.
The Spanish F1 Grand Prix 2016 will be held May 13 – 15 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, north of Barcelona. This event will bring in heavier than normal traffic to both Barcelona and Gerona with significant road congestion anticipated to/from the race circuit. General aviation (GA) arrivals for this event are expected to start the week before and will remain congested a day or two following the race.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
As the Spanish Grand Prix venue is approximately midway between Barcelona (LEBL) and Gerona (LEGE), both airports are good options for passengers planning to attend the event. Drive time from Gerona to the race circuit will be approximately 40 minutes, but the commute from downtown Barcelona could run 90 minutes or so, considering heavy city traffic congestion in the city. Irrespective of which airport you’re commuting in from, you’ll be faced with significant congestion at the entrance to the event, unless you’ve opted for a helicopter transfer.
2. Barcelona (LEBL)
LEBL is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with 24-hour customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance and plenty of general aviation (GA) parking available. However, hangar accommodation is not possible here for transient GA movements. A general aviation terminal (GAT) is available at LEBL along with full GA support services and credit.
3. LEBL slots
Airport slots are required for LEBL and should be requested as soon as the schedule is known. Be aware that slots will be in high demand over the Grand Prix period, particularly closer to the end of the event, and short-notice slots may not be available at requested times of operation. As LEBL is part of the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) system, be mindful that arrival slots have +/- 15 minute deviation, but there’s no deviation tolerance for departure slots. If you miss a departure slot at LEBL you’ll need to obtain a new slot, in compliance with the A-CDM process, and then file a flight plan based on your new slot time.
Normally, your ground handler will obtain airport slots for arrival/departure and advise you of approved slot times. Note that slot confirmation numbers are not provided, so there’s nothing to enter in flight plan remarks. Be mindful that LEBL as an A-CDM airport only permits you do delay your flight up to three times. For a fourth delay request you’ll likely experience a delay of up to two hours.
4. Gerona (LEGE)
LEGE is a 24-hour AOE with 24-hour CIQ, plenty of aircraft parking and full GA support services and credit available. To confirm parking at this location, your ground handler will send a request to the airport authority, together with your schedule. In many ways LEGE is a better GA option than LEBL for this event as surface travel to the race circuit can be about an hour quicker, there’s plenty of parking available, and parking charges are lower than LEBL. For example, average parking cost for a 40 ton aircraft at LEGE is approximately 100 Euros/night, while equivalent parking costs at LEBL are about 500 Euros. Although fewer hotel accommodation options exist in Gerona, there are good quality hotels available for crew accommodation.
5. Parking and GSE
Operators are permitted to park for as long as they wish at either LEBL or LEGE, so long as prior parking approval has been obtained. We seldom encounter issues with extended parking at either airport. Both locations offer a full range of ground support equipment (GSE), and it’s not generally necessary to bring tow bars or chocks. For LEBL about 80% of GA parking stands require push-back, but ground handlers normally have towbars available. In the case of LEGE, none of the GA parking stands require push backs. Be mindful that when on the ramp it’s required for crew to wear high visibility vests at all times. Follow-me truck operators look out for compliance with these rules and will determine whether to notify you to put one on or fine you 1000 Euros for not following security procedures.
When operating to LEBL or LEGE for the Spanish Grand Prix it’s best to arrive a day or two before the start of the race and to depart a day or two after the race is over. This will allow operating into and out of congested airports. Be aware that LEBL is under the A-CDM program so it’s best to familiarize yourself with this process.
Universal and Universal Aviation are 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.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers permits, aviation fuel and hotels for traveling to Spain for the Grand Prix.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Spain, contact me at email@example.com.
About Gonzalo Barona
With more than three decades of experience in business aviation and ground support, Gonzalo Barona, Managing Director, Universal Aviation Spain, is an expert on all aspects of operations to Spain. Gonzalo, who is based in Madrid, has been with Universal since the 1970s and has coordinated ground support and logistics for thousands of operations in that time.
Gonzalo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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