2018 Winter Games in Korea – Latest Updates
This is a post by author Jaeseong Lim. Jaeseong is the Chief Executive Officer at UBjet Aviation, a Universal Aviation® Certified ground handler, which is based in Seoul, South Korea and provides supervision services throughout the country. Jaesong is an expert on business aircraft operations to South Korea and can be contacted at email@example.com.
The 2018 Winter Games, takes place February 9-25 at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in South Korea. This venue is located in remote northeastern Korea, some distance from airports in the Seoul area. But, there’s a closer airport of entry (AOE) for general aviation (GA) may consider. For those planning to attend this major global sporting event we recommend securing aircraft parking and crew accommodations as early as possible.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Preferred airports
Yangyang (RKNY) is an AOE with an 8202 foot runway positioned relatively close to the event venue. During the 2018 Winter Game period we expect that the airport and terminal will remain open 24 hours, but this isn’t confirmed yet. Note that airport slot priority will be first given to scheduled commercial operations. It’s expected that slot times will not become available for GA until later in September. GA aircraft may only park at RKNY up to two hours and will then need to reposition. If the airport remains open 24 hours a day, fuel uplift services will be available 24/7 and credit can be provided on prior arrangement. Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance will be within the main RKNY terminal, along with scheduled commercial passengers. CIQ authorities plan to boost normal processing capabilities from 282 to 423 people per hour for the duration of the event.
2. GA support at RKNY
Ground handlers will be available at this location throughout the 2018 Winter Game period to help coordinate passenger, crew and aircraft services. These agents will also assist in coordinating airside ramp access. Fuel uplift is available at RKNY, on a first-come-first-serve basis, and credit is possible if coordinated in advance. Note that there are no restrictions at this location in terms of APU use. However, engine start requires tower permission. RKNY should have a total of seven parking spots (including class B, C, D, and E aircraft types) with at least two of them being allocated to business jets. Authorities will look at the traffic and determine if they can allocate more spots to GA aircraft. Note that the majority of operators will be permitted a maximum of two hours on the ground.
3. RKNY runway availability
As RKNY has no parallel taxiway, airport capacity is somewhat limited. Normally four flights per hour are accommodated at this location. During the Game period we’re anticipating capacity of six flights per hour.
4. Overnight parking
For overnight parking the best option to consider is RKSS (Gimpo), followed by RKSI (Incheon). We do not expect that GA operators will have significant issues with arrival or departure slots during the event period. However, note that RKSI may have limited airport slots during daily peak hours. While there’s currently airside construction activity going on at RKSI, this is expected to be completed prior to the 2018 Winter Games. Overnight parking is more limited at RKSI with three spots currently available for GA aircraft. Authorities are looking to offer more once the second terminal is complete. We estimate that RKSS has approximately 45 parking slots (C class 21, B class 15, D class 9), but most aircraft traveling to this airport are B737s. With the traffic RKSS experiences, we are estimating at least 10 spots will be available for GA aircraft. In general, there should be adequate parking available at both RKSI and RKSS for GA operators during the Winter Games. Note that we are seeing airport authorities provide parking spot confirmations to GA aircraft during the Winter Game period.
5. RKNY transportation
To cover the 129 and 108 mile distances, respectively, between RKSI and RKSS to RKNY, trains, buses and domestic flights are available. Direct bus shuttles from RKSI and RKSS, via the expressway, will take about three hours 30 minutes. Train services also available from RKSI or RKSS to Gangreung and Jinbu station, the closest high-speed rail station to PyeongChang. There are two railway stations – closest railway station will be Jinbu station (Pyeongchang), where the Gangreung station is further away. The train travel time from RKSI to Jinbu (Pyeongchang) is 98min, and RKSI to Gangreung is two hours. Alternatively, domestic flights will be operated from both RKSI and RKSS to RKNY and these flights will take about an hour. Note that the specific number of flights per day to and from RKNY is unknown at this time.
6. Crew accommodations
While preferred hotels close to the Games will likely be fully booked, there should be sufficient 4-star crew accommodations options to be had in the Seoul are
a. Central Seoul is well populated with good 4- and 5-star hotels, including international chain brands, but it’s important to book as early as possible and to confirm specific cancellation terms and penalties.
7. Helicopter transfers
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) plans to construct a temporary heliport close to the event venue. While we anticipate helicopter transfers to the Games site will be possible final details have not yet been made available at this time.
8. Security considerations
South Korea is generally a low threat and secure environment, safer than many other areas of the developed world. Airport security at all AOEs is adequate and security presence will be enhanced at RKNY during the Winter Games. Note that while the events take place just 40 miles south of the border with North Korea.
Severe turbulence is expected due to the mountainous terrain around RKNY, and strong crosswinds are also expected from the landside in the winter and from the seaside in the summer.
The 2018 Winter Games promises to be a highly popular international gathering with associated aircraft parking and crew accommodation options in high demand. While we do not expect overnight GA parking to run out in the Seoul area it’s always best practice to confirm parking and accommodation arrangements as soon as schedule is known.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to South Korea, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.