ABACE 2014 Prep: Business Aviation Operations to Shanghai, China

ABACE 2014 Prep: Business Aviation Operations to Shanghai, China

This is a post by author Jimmy Young. Jimmy serves as the country manager for Universal Aviation China, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Jimmy is an expert on business aircraft operations in China and can be contacted at jimmyyoung@universalaviation.aero.

The Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) takes place April 15-17, 2014, in Shanghai, with the aircraft static display located at Hongqiao (ZSSS). For business aircraft operators traveling to China – and particularly to the Shanghai area – during ABACE, there are several trip planning considerations to be mindful of.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Shanghai has two airports

Shanghai is served by two airports: ZSSS and Pudong (ZSPD). ZSSS handles most of the domestic flights while ZSPD handles most international flights. Both are 24-hour slot-controlled Airports of Entry (AOEs), with full aircraft services and credit available. ZSSS has limited hangar availability for transient aircraft while ZSPD has no hangar space available. General Aviation (GA) parking at ZSSS is in front of the Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) whereas aircraft parking at ZSPD is located about a 20-minute drive to the terminal.

2. Peak-hour airport slot restrictions

Both ZSSS and ZSPD limit operations to just one airport slot during peak hours of 0800-2300 local. This means that drop-and-gos may not be possible. If you arrive during peak hours, your only departure option, the same day, will be after the peak-hour period.

3. ZSPD is preferred parking alternative for ABACE

ZSSS will likely only be available for original equipment manufacturer aircraft parking during the ABACE period as the GA parking ramp will be filled with static display aircraft. All other operators will likely be directed to ZSPD. ABACE-related regulations and restrictions at ZSSS will not be fully known until approximately two weeks before the event. We do not foresee, however, any parking issues or limitations at ZSPD during the ABACE period.

4. Alternate airport options

Both Nanjing (ZSNJ) and Hangzhou (ZSHC) are recommended options in case there are any issues at ZSSS or ZSPD. Both are 24-hour AOEs with full aircraft services and credit available via prior arrangement. To access Shanghai from either of these airports, rail options are available, and your ground handler can assist in coordinating this.

5. Airport slot and landing permit requirements

Landing permits are required for all aircraft traveling to China, and airport slots are needed for both ZSSS and ZSPD. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) processes all landing permit and airport slot requests, which should be requested as soon as the schedule is known. You will not receive an airport slot confirmation number, but your landing permit will serve as slot approval. It’s recommended that airport slots be requested three to four business days in advance. While slot windows are not clearly defined, they’re often removed from the system about an hour to an hour and a half after the approved time. So, in the event of a schedule delay, you’ll need to revise both your slot and flight plan. Airport authorities are typically more lenient regarding arrival slots. However, if you’re delayed two to three hours on arrival, airport authorities may request an explanation but may be lenient if the delay is weather-related. Best policy, when operating to China, is to try to avoid arrival/departure schedule changes which will affect your airport slots.

6. Shanghai airport restrictions

GA traffic can operate to Shanghai and, depending on the time of operation, may operate into and out of a particular airport. The following is an overview of what is permitted for each airport:

a. 0001-2359 local, GA operating from the south, west, and northwest will be routed to ZSSS.

b. 0001-2359 local, GA can operate to ZSPD to and from any direction.

c. 2300-0659 local, GA operating to and from the northeast and east will be routed to ZSSS.

d. 0700-2300 local, GA arriving from the east or northeast are not permitted to land at ZSSS. The east or northeast direction refers to LAMEN direction or B2221 and A326 directions.

e. CAAC will strictly enforce air traffic limits and will only accept a certain number of flights in a given day. Currently, ZSSS and ZSPD only allow 10 movements per day.

f. CAAC will first process permit requests in accordance with normal published rules and regulations.

g. After processing the permit, CAAC will review the expected traffic for the given day and, based on availability, may grant permission for ZSSS.

7. Avoid schedule revisions

When operating to China and particularly the Shanghai area during ABACE, it’s best to avoid schedule revisions. CAAC recently implemented new regulations limiting operators to no more than two permit revisions. Any change requests after the two revisions will not be accepted, and you’ll need to keep to your last approved schedule. For more information, please see our article titled "China Overflight and Landing Permits – Part 1: Changes in Lead Times and Revisions."

8. Visa requirements

It’s important to confirm crew and passenger visa requirements prior to operating to China. Different types of visas exist, and they are generally not possible to obtain on arrival. Crew must possess "C-type" crew visas as regular business or tourism visas are not acceptable. Passengers of certain nationalities may quality for 72-hour transit visas on arrival, but it’s always best to check in advance to determine if passengers are eligible for this. Generally, for these transit visas, passengers must arrive from an international location, make only one stop in China, and depart to an international destination (a different country than the one you arrived from) to quality for it.

9. Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) procedures for Shanghai

ZSSS CIQ arrival/departure clearance takes place at the FBO and requires about 5-10 minutes.
The clearance process is a little more involved at ZSPD. CIQ will come out to the aircraft to collect passports/visas, and crew/passengers will be escorted to the VIP lounge to wait for passports to be processed. Quarantine and agriculture authorities may choose to inspect your luggage. This process requires about 10 minutes to complete. For departure, ground handlers normally bring luggage and passports to CIQ in advance. Once passengers arrive at the airport, they’ll be screened by security and escorted to the aircraft. The ground handler will collect the passports and bring them to the aircraft.

10. Limited hotel and local transport availability

Preferred hotel availability in the Shanghai area will be limited during ABACE, especially around the ZSSS airport, particularly as the 2014 China Grand Prix also takes place in Shanghai April 18-20 – immediately following ABACE. Hotels may extend cancellation policies and increase room prices during this period. It’s best to confirm crew hotel accommodations, and pre-paid transport (car with driver), as early as possible.

Closing Thoughts

While aircraft parking should not be an issue during ABACE, there will be hotel room limitations to consider, both in central Shanghai and the ZSSS airport area. If you’re not an ABACE sponsor, and/or your aircraft is not destined for the ABACE static display, you’ll most likely need to consider ZSPD for overnight parking. When operating to China, it’s important to be aware of the recently implemented permit revision restrictions as well.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to China, contact Christine Vamvakas christinevamvakas@univ-wea.com.