8 Tips for Flying to the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix
This year’s Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix will be held 15-17 March at the Albert Park circuit, south of Melbourne. There are three airport options for business jet operators traveling to this event. The Australian Grand Prix is a busy period and draws large crowds.
Best options, in terms of aircraft parking and hotel accommodations, will be available to those who book as early as possible. Here are some tips to help you with your planning:
1. The three airports to consider
First choice for the Grand Prix is Melbourne Intl (YMML), approximately a 25-minute drive to the circuit. Other good options include Melbourne Essedon (YMEN), a 20-minute drive, and Avalon (YMAV) is approximately 45 minutes from the circuit. YMML is an airport of entry (AOE), YMEN is an airport of entry upon request, and YMAV is a domestic-only airfield.
2. YMML is first choice for the event
YMML is a 24-hour airport with customs and immigration always available. This airfield accepts Stage 3 aircraft; however, Stage 2 operations are banned. As traffic volumes will be elevated over the Grand Prix period, it’s best to request aircraft parking early. All ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged on credit with advance notification. Aviation fuel cards are accepted for payment of jet fuel at this location. It’s important to note, however, that two business days are required in order to make fueling arrangements without using an accepted aviation fuel card. Hydrant fueling is available in the freight area, but this requires significant advance notice, as ground handlers must arrange slots through the apron management. For hydrant fueling, the aircraft must taxi for 5-10 minutes, depending on the slot and other traffic at the airport, under power as tow bars are not available.
To arrange customs, certain information must be pre-submitted to Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in order to avoid delays during the clearing process. Customs requires crew and passenger names, dates of birth, nationalities, passport numbers, and expiration dates. Specific immigration and customs forms/cards need to be filled out for each Australian international arrival and departure, and Australian law prohibits local ground handlers from pre-filling out these forms. The following is a list of forms/cards needed:
- Incoming passenger card – one per passenger regardless of age
- Outgoing passenger card – one per passenger regardless of age
- Aircrew Dec “Form B465” – one per crew on general declaration
A stamped general declaration from the previous airport is also required for all arriving aircraft into Australia, regardless of country of origin. There are no exceptions to this regulation.
Please note that customs clearance cannot take place on the aircraft. You’ll be cleared at the airport terminal or, provided all pre-requisites have been met, in the ground handler lounge. No fresh or unprocessed food may be brought into the country on arrival. These foods must be put into quarantine waste bins. Unless prior arrangements have been made for dry ice, there’s a strict quarantine requirement that all food be removed from the aircraft upon arrival. For more information on customs and quarantine requirements, please visit the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website.
3. YMEN is another good option
YMEN operates 0600 to 2300 local daily. Stage 3 aircraft are accepted, but Stage 2 operations are banned. Be mindful that maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) permitted for this airport is 99,000 lbs, so it’s not available to large aircraft such as B737. If you’re operating 2301 to 0559 local, you’ll need to utilize YMML. YMEN is an AOE upon request, and Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed for all international arrivals and departures. PPR lead time is 10 working days, and approval isn’t guaranteed. Ground handling and 4th-party services may be arranged in advance, on credit. Major aviation fuel cards and consumer credit cards are accepted for payment of jet fuel.
4. YMAV is another option to consider
YMAV is a 24-hour airport. However, it’s not an AOE, and Stage 2 aircraft are banned. PPRs are needed for YMAV, with 48 hours’ lead time required. As this is a former Australian Department of Defence airport, local infrastructure is limited. Aircraft parking is available on the eastern tarmac only. Access to the northern tarmac, in front of the scheduled passenger terminal, is not an option due to security restrictions related to scheduled aircraft movements. Jet fuel is available, and ground handling can be arranged on credit with advance notice.
5. Landing permits may be required for flights to Australia
Landing permits may be required both for private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations to Australia. For more information, see our previous article: Understanding Flight Permits and PPRs in Australia.
6. Confirm hotel and local transport arrangements as early as possible
YMML and YMEN have a good selection of 4- and 5-star hotels (including large international hotel chains) available. Best practice is to book 4- or 5-star hotel accommodations as early as possible, due to high demand during the Australian Grand Prix period. If you’re not familiar with the area, avoid rental vehicles, due to traffic issues and possible road closures during the event period. Pre-paid local transport (car with driver) is the preferred option for many business aircraft operators, and your ground handler can make these arrangements.
7. Check online for additional information
More information on the Albert Park circuit race dates, schedules, and ticket purchase options can be found on the Formula 1 website.
8. Additional information on operating in Australia
For additional information, check out our library of articles on business-aviation operations in Australia.
While plenty of aircraft parking and accommodation options should be available for business aircraft operators, even if you intend to set up a last minute trip, it’s always best to begin working with your 3rd-party provider as soon as your schedule is known.