Guide to Flight Ops Into Shanghai for ABACE 2015 – Part 2: Landing Permits, Slots, & Visas

Guide to Flight Ops Into Shanghai for ABACE 2015 – Part 2: Landing Permits, Slots, & Visas

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 continues from our article last week, entitled "Guide to Flight Ops Into Shanghai for ABACE 2015 – Part 1: Airports & Parking."

For General Aviation (GA) operations to the Shanghai area during the 2015 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) period, it’s important to ensure that airport slots and landing permits are obtained well in advance. Be aware of permit revision limitations in China as you’ll normally not be able to make more than two revisions to an approved permit. Also, make sure you comply with China’s visa requirements.

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

1. Chinese landing permits

Landing permits are needed for all aircraft traveling to China, and the official permit lead time is three business days. This gives the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) the time needed to review your information and communicate with your local sponsor. Note that all GA permits are categorized as business flights, and not as private non-revenue or charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights. Once CAAC approves a permit, it’s only valid for the times given on the schedule. Any change to the schedule, crew, passengers, and aircraft tail number is considered a revision. Our experience has been that crew and/or passenger changes are viewed as "minor" revisions and may not be considered part of the two-revision limit. Schedule changes, on the other hand, seem to be considered "major" revisions. It’s always best, when possible, to adhere to your permit approvals without changes.

2. Landing permit revisions

It’s important to be mindful that no more than two permit revisions are allowed for each permit request. CAAC will try to accommodate original equipment manufacturer permit revisions during ABACE – for flight demo purposes, etc. – but authorities will still require you to adhere to a maximum of two revisions. If your schedule demands more than two permit revisions, you will have to submit a new permit request.

3. Permit documentation

When applying for Chinese landing permits, you’ll need to provide CAAC your schedule, registration, airworthiness certificates, and sponsor information. For larger GA aircraft, such as Airbus and Boeing equipment, you’ll also need to submit a floor plan and seating layout – to indicate that this is a business aircraft, as opposed to a commercial-use aircraft. So long as the larger aircraft is configured for business aviation, with fewer than 29 passenger seats, permit processing times and procedures will be the same as for smaller business aviation aircraft.

4. Short-notice permit requests

Requests for short-notice permits, or permit revisions, are on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of CAAC. CAAC normally operates 0830-1630 local Monday-Friday and is closed on weekends and holidays. There’s an after-hours duty office, but this is for emergency requests only. Our experience has been that permits are often processed in less than official lead times at CAAC’s discretion, assuming all documentation and adequate sponsor information is provided with the initial request.

5. Airport slots

Both Hongqiao (ZSSS) and Pudong (ZSPD) require airport slots, and these are issued by CAAC once the landing permit is confirmed. Slots are only processed and confirmed approximately 48 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival in order to give operational preference to scheduled commercial activity. Be aware that confirmed slot times may be different from what you’ve requested, and this will mean that you will need to revise your schedule to meet those slot times on the approved permit. CAAC prefers operators to arrive/depart according to authorized slot times. At some airports a flight delay may require a revised slot, while other airports may permit you to operate without a revision despite a delay. It’s always best to confirm slot requirements with your 3rd-party provider. Note that airport slots are not required for either ZSNJ or ZSHC.

6. Slot restrictions

Peak operating hours for ZSSS and ZSPD are 0800-2200 local. During these peak hours, GA operators are permitted only one slot (i.e., you may not obtain an arrival and departure slot during peak hours) at both ZSSS and ZSPD. This means that on the same day you can’t obtain an arrival and departure slot for operations during peak hours.

7. Visa requirements

All crew members and passengers traveling to China should have appropriate visas prior to arrival. Note that crew members normally require C-type visas for China. For the Shanghai area, however, crew members may enter the country with business visas, but it’s always best to confirm this in advance with your ground handler.

In the case of passengers who meet 72-hour "transit" requirements, it’s possible to stay in China without a visa, in Shanghai (or in Beijing). To take advantage of this visa-free option, you’ll need to make an international arrival into China, and your next leg is to a third country (i.e., not a domestic leg). For example, a flight from Anchorage (PANC) to ZSPD to Hong Kong (VHHH) would qualify for a visa-free entry if passengers stay in China no more than 72 hours. Note that these visa-free benefits do not extend to crewmembers.

8. Arriving without a visa

If you arrive in China without a visa when one is required, or with the wrong type of visa, you’ll most likely be deported and fined. It’s also important to ensure that your passport is valid for your full length of stay in China.

Closing thoughts

If you plan to operate into China for ABACE, it’s important to start planning 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 ensure 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