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. Isabelle is an expert on business aircraft operations in southern France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are operating your business aircraft to the Cannes Yacht Festival (Sept 12-17) to experience one of the world’s leading in-water yacht shows, you don’t want to spoil it by not getting preferred aircraft parking or crew accommodation options. Due to the high-traffic nature of this event and its draw on general aviation (GA) traffic, trip planning should be considered without delay.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Airport options
2. Alternate airports
Should you be unable to secure parking at LFMD or LFMN, alternate parking options include Toulon (LFTH), Le Castellet (LFMQ) and Marseilles (LFML). Note that LFMQ no longer provides customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance options for international GA arrivals.
3. Airport hours and restrictions
LFMN is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) accommodating any size of aircraft. However, LFMD is only operational 0800 local to 30 minutes after sunset with no airport overtime allowed. Note that LFMD restricts operations to aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 35,000 kg (77,175pounds), but this is up from the previous limitation of 22,000 kg (48,510 pounds) back in 2015. LFMD mandates that crew obtain a special approach briefing due to local noise restrictions. More information on this can be found at the airport’s website.
4. Drop and go
If overnight parking is not available at either LFMN or LFMD it will be possible to drop and go at LFMN. This option, however, may not be available at smaller LFMD. Max permitted time on the ground at LFMN is three hours if parking isn’t approved, and this must be coordinated in advance due to slot requirements. Once passengers have been dropped at LFMN the aircraft may reposition to an alternate airport for parking and crew accommodation.
5. Applying for slots and PPRs
LFMD slots and PPRs are applied for simultaneously, and this should be done as early as possible. Since online access (username/password) is needed to request slots, your local ground handler will typically be the one that requests and coordinates slots/PPR. Once an available slot and PPR has been obtained you’ll receive a confirmation – one number for both. This will then need to be placed in Remarks section 18 of the flight plan.
For arrival into LFMN only slots are needed, and this can be coordinated via your ground handler.
6. CIQ clearance
CIQ clearance is possible at LFMN 24 hours. From 0900-2100 local you’ll clear in the general aviation terminal (GAT). and outside these hours you’ll be cleared either in the main terminal or the GAT, at CIQ’s discretion. Once the aircraft arrives at LFMN, or when crew/passengers are ready at the airport for departure, CIQ authorities will confirm the clearance location.
For LFMD CIQ clearance is always in the main terminal, but the process is usually quick. Note that LFTH has limited clearance hours, and it’s advised to request CIQ clearance at least 24 hours prior. For example, clearance at LFTH is 0900-1800 local daily even though airport hours are longer. Note that LFMQ has discontinued international arrival/departure ability as there’s no longer a customs presence on the airfield. It’s now only possible to arrive into LFMQ on a domestic flight or one from within the Schengen region. LFML, meanwhile, is a 24-hour airport with clearance within the main terminal.
7. CIQ hours
In this region, only LFML and LFMN offer 24/7 police and customs presence to clear inbound and outbound international flights. At all other ports CIQ hours are limited. Note that customs will not provide overtime services at airports where they’re on duty certain hours. In the case of LFTH, winter hours for clearance services are 0800-2000 local and overtime options are never possible.
8. Visa and passport requirements
Certain nationalities require Schengen visas. If needed, visas must be obtained prior to arrival. If crew or passengers who require Schengen visas arrive without them they face deportation. For all travel in this region we recommend passenger/crew passports have at least three months remaining validity, beyond intended length of stay.
9. Hotel and catering considerations
We expect many preferred hotels to sell out during the Cannes Yacht Festival, with rates as high as 600 USD/night. The good news is that 4-star crew accommodations will be available over this period, although maybe not in close proximity to the Old Port where the Yacht Festival takes place. Catering services, just like many other services will be in higher than normal demand over this period so additional lead time should be allowed.
September is still busy travel season on the Cote d’Azur, and competition for parking and preferred accommodations will be high during the Cannes Yacht Festival. Securing slots, PPR, parking and crew accommodations should be a top checklist item as soon as schedule is determined.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to southern France, contact me at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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