Business Aircraft Ops in Switzerland: Art Basel 2016
Art Basel is one of the world’s premier modern and contemporary art shows and held annually in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach. This year’s show in Basel, Switzerland will be held June 16-19. As usual, this event brings in above average congestion for both local traffic as well as aircraft movements. General aviation (GA) operators planning flights to this event should expect limited overnight aircraft parking availability, limited hotels, and other congestion issues during June 13 – 21.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airport
Primary airport for this event is Basel (LFSB), an airport of entry (AOE) with 0600-2200 local GA operating hours. Stage 2 aircraft are not permitted here, and airport overtime is not possible. Note that while you’ll flight plan to LFSB you will likely clear customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) on the Swiss side of the same airport, designated as LSZM. This airfield is somewhat unique in that it’s bi-national, with the city located in Swiss territory and the airport on French territory. Two ICAOs – LFSB and LSZM – refer to the same airport but different sides of the airport.
For operations during Art Basel we recommend confirming ground handling as soon as possible. Many operators file handling requests as early as February each year to ensure services and crew accommodations will be available for Art Basel in June.
2. Airport slots and PPRs
Prior permission required (PPR) is not needed for LFSB. While there are no airport slot requirements at this time, the airport authority reserves the right to implement emergency slot requirements, should congestion become an issue.
3. Aircraft parking
While PPRs aren’t needed, advance parking notification should always be provided. GA parking, in most cases, will be limited to one hour on the ground at LFSB. Once parking/services are confirmed at LFSB, or nearby alternates, we recommend no changes be made to the schedule and services requested. This is because elevated airport congestion during this period could lead to operational delays.
Overnight parking at LFSB will be extremely limited during June 13-21. Officially, GA parking will be restricted to one hour on the ground, so in most cases it’s going to be a drop and go operation. While overnight parking may be requested, there’s no guarantee these requests will be successful, and in most cases, they will not be.
4. LFSB arrival and handling arrangements
For operation to LFSB/LSZM, flight notification must be submitted in advance. This is to arrange ground handling and to notify the airport for arrival/departure CIQ clearance purposes. For flight notification operators should provide:
- full schedule
- aircraft registration and tail number
- crew and passenger information
Note that if flight notification has not been provided in advance there may be delays upon arrival.
5. CIQ clearance
Upon arrival passengers will be escorted to a private lounge at the fixed-base operator (FBO) for customs/immigration clearance, a 10-20 minute process. Crew also clear at this location, if it’s their first entry to Switzerland or the Schengen zone. Schengen visas are required for non-European Union (EU) and non-Swiss citizens and must be obtained prior to arrival.
6. Alternate airports
If you’re unable to obtain overnight parking at LSFB/LSZM, the best parking alternate is Zurich (LSZH) 49 nautical miles (NM) away. Additional alternates include Milan Linate (LIML), Lyon (LFLL) and Colmar-Houssen (LFGA) at 148, 150 and 32 NM from Basel, respectively. All of these are AOEs, with the exception of LFGA which is only an AOE upon request.
7. LFGA considerations
LFGA is one of the closer alternate airports to Basel, at about a 45 minute driving time. However, be mindful that LFGA has a shorter (5,282 ft) runway and limited hours of operation. To designate LFGA an AOE at least 24 hours notification is required, and 48 hours is recommended. Airport overtime may be requested for this location, but it’s at airport authority discretion to allow/disallow.
8. Parking at alternates – conflict with the 2016 Euro Football Championship
Be aware that parking at alternate airports in France may be a concern as the 2016 Euro Football Championship is underway June 10 through July 10. Host city airports, including LFLL, will require airport slots during sport event days and may not have GA parking available.
Keep in mind, also, that since November 2015 France has been requiring arrival and departure CIQ clearance for all intra-EU flights. This often adds some time to arrivals/departures. Due to higher congestion it may be best to avoid using alternate airports in France during 2016 Art Basel and opt, instead, for LSZH or LIML. Keep in mind that Italy has implemented aircraft disinsection procedures for Zika with which you will need to comply.
9. Hotels and local transport
Hotel accommodations in the Basel area will be in very high demand during Art Basel 2016 with most hotels close to the airport already sold out. Expect Basel’s already high crew room prices to be even more elevated during the Art Basel period, with extended cancellation policies in place. For local travel within the Basel area pre-paid transport (car with driver) and public taxis are available, and your ground handler can assist with arrangements.
In most cases, GA operators will only be permitted one hour on the ground at LFSB before they’ll need to reposition. While there are plenty of alternate airports to consider, be mindful that the 10 locations in France hosting concurrent 2016 Euro Football Championship will likely be very congested with restricted parking availability.
If you have any questions about this trip or would like assistance planning your next trip to France, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.