Guide to Flight Ops Into Shanghai for ABACE 2015 – Part 1: Airports & Parking

Guide to Flight Ops Into Shanghai for ABACE 2015 – Part 1: Airports & Parking

This is a post by author Jimmy Young. Jimmy serves as 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

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on traveling to Shanghai for ABACE 2015.

The 2015 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) will take place April 14-16 at Shanghai Hongqiao (ZSSS). Since its relaunch in 2012, ABACE has been widely regarded as the premier tradeshow event for business aviation in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s ABACE is expected to attract over 8,000 attendees from over 50 countries, 187 exhibitors, and 40 static display aircraft.

During this period there will be some restrictions on General Aviation (GA) operations in the Shanghai area. If you plan to operate an aircraft to Shanghai during ABACE, below you’ll find basic information about airport options. (Next week, we’ll cover landing permits, slots, and visas.)

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

1. ZSSS is primary airport for this event

Access and parking at ZSSS will be restricted during ABACE 2015. Only exhibitors, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and operators whose aircraft will be on display at ABACE will be permitted to operate to, and park overnight, at ZSSS. These groups will have an invitation letter from the organizers approving them to utilize ZSSS. Note that OEMs with aircraft on static display generally arrive one to three days prior to the event, so ZSSS access restrictions become active prior to the official April 14 start date. Note that ZSSS is closed daily, 0001-0600 local, due to its close proximity to central Shanghai. Airport overtime is only possible in emergency situations.

ZSSS has full services and Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) during its operating hours of 0600-2359 local.

Slots are required for all travel to this airport, and, during peak hours of 0800-2200 local, only one slot – either landing or departure – is allowed per GA aircraft. (Note that we’ll cover the slot request process in part 2 of this article series.)

2. Alternate airports for parking

If you’re not an ABACE static display participant, you’ll need to park at Pudong (ZSPD) or, if that parking fills up, at either Nanjing (ZSNJ) or Hangzhou (ZSHC).


ZSPD operates 24/7 with CIQ availability and full aircraft support services. ZSPD requires airport slots for all arrivals and departures. During peak hours of 0800-2200 local, only one slot – either landing or departure – is allowed per GA aircraft.


ZSNJ is about a 45-minute flight from ZSSS, while ZSHC is about a 30-minute reposition flight.

Both ZSNJ and ZSHC are Airports of Entry (AOEs), but support services at ZSHC are more limited than at ZSNJ. Neither airport requires slots.

Both have high-speed train access to Shanghai. From ZSNJ the train takes approximately two hours, and from ZSHC it takes approximately one hour.

ZSNJ and ZSHC have good hotel accommodations available, including major international chains, as well as assorted local transport options.

3. Sponsor letters are required for all travel to China

When operating to China, sponsor letters are required in order to secure landing permits. The sponsor must be in the city/region you’re traveling to and be an entity you’ll be conducting business with. For those attending ABACE as registered exhibitors, ABACE will issue sponsor invitation letters. For those attending as trade visitors, and not official exhibitors, you’ll need your own local sponsor. In all cases the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) will contact these sponsors to confirm validity of the information prior to issuing landing permits.

4. ZSSS and ZSPD infrastructure and CIQ

ZSSS has a full-service Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) and GA parking ramps dedicated to business aviation. CIQ clearance is accomplished within the FBO, and the process is quick. At ZSPD there’s no FBO, and GA aircraft are usually parked in the cargo parking area. For CIQ clearance at ZSPD, the customs inspectors come out to check the aircraft, while all passports are collected by your ground handler and given to customs agents. CIQ clearance for passengers and crew members at ZSPD takes place within a VIP lounge at the main terminal. Note that the transfer from the ZSPD parking area to the terminal takes about 20 minutes, and the CIQ clearance process takes about another 15 minutes. By regulation at all airports in China, it is not normally possible to clear CIQ onboard your aircraft unless your flight is diplomatic or air ambulance. At all AOEs in China, there’s a standard charge to cover CIQ services. These charges are normally settled by your ground handler and billed back later.

5. ZSNJ and ZSHC infrastructure and CIQ clearance

ZSHC doesn’t have an FBO or a dedicated GA parking area, but there’s usually ample parking space for GA movements. For domestic legs a VIP lounge for crew and passengers is available, but international arrivals/departures passengers and crew members are cleared by CIQ in the main terminal. At ZSHC GA crew/passengers are cleared separately from commercial passengers in the main terminal, and the process is quick. At ZSNJ an FBO opened in September 2014, and all arrivals and departures for international and domestic legs are processed through the FBO building. Aircraft parking at ZSNJ is usually not an issue for GA operators. It’s important to note that for both airports, the normal CIQ operating hours are 0600-2300 local. Prior permission required is needed for any CIQ overtime.

6. Hotels and local transport

During ABACE preferred hotels in Shanghai will be in high demand, and room prices will be higher than usual. Typical cost for crew accommodations will be 300-400 USD per night – with luxury hotels demanding even higher prices. Shanghai accommodation requests should be made as soon as possible. As many prepaid transport (car with driver) options will be fully booked during this period, it’s important to make local transport arrangements early. If you’re using taxis, it’s best to arrange this via your ground handler. This is because most taxi drivers do not speak English and may drop you at the wrong place. It’s possible to book rental cars in the Shanghai area; however, this is not recommended due to the congested traffic in the area and lack of English-language traffic signs.

Closing thoughts

If you plan to operate into China for ABACE, it’s important to start preparing now and making all your requests for appropriate parking, slots, hotels, etc. Work with a qualified 3rd-party provider and local ground provider to help assure everything is covered and you have a seamless mission.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to China, contact Christine Vamvakas

Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers landing permit and airport slot requirements for travel to Shanghai.