How to operate a business jet to EBACE in Geneva

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The annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) is Europe’s largest business aviation tradeshow. This year’s event will take place May 21-23, 2019 in Geneva. Due to ongoing GA congestion issues, it is recommended that operators attending the event, plan well in advance. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is EBACE?

EBACE is Europe’s equivalent to NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE, or often just called “NBAA”). Unlike NBAA, which alternates sites, EBACE is always held in May at Geneva (LSGG). Due to congestion from GA activity, operators planning to attend EBACE should plan in advance. EBACE is jointly hosted by NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).

2. Primary airport

EBACE is unique in that the tradeshow and static display are both at the same location, as LSGG is connected to the PalExpo Conference Center. Therefore, almost all attendees arrive to EBACE via LSGG, which is an airport of entry (AOE) with full services, ground support equipment (GSE) and credit available.

Operating hours are 0600-2200 local daily with no overtime possible. For arrival you must be on the ground by 2200 local, or you’ll be diverted. Departures must be wheels up by 2145 local. There is an extension until 2359 local for aircraft filing as IN, but there must be passengers onboard (e.g., ferry flights aren’t able to use this). LSSG is busy throughout the day, and because there is only one runway, delays are often incurred when weather goes down. However, no runway closures are anticipated during the EBACE event as all demo flights will obtain slots via normal channels.

3. LSGG parking

During EBACE, some parking areas normally used by GA will be blocked off and restricted to static display aircraft only. Overnight parking, therefore, may be limited during the event and a couple of days prior. Airport authorities are restricting GA parking, by NOTAM, to just one night for aircraft with wingspans of more than 24 meters. If you’re not able to arrange overnight parking at LSGG you may need to consider a drop and go, with time on the ground limited to about two hours.

4. Charter considerations

Charter operators need to consider permit lead times as this may complicate short notice trips to Geneva (LSGG)–especially during the busy EBACE period. Having required documentation and information ready will help accelerate the permit acquisition process. Also, be aware of the airport slot process and availability during this event. Other considerations include carrying a tow bar, understand taxes on fuel uplifted, hotel, and the customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) process.

5. Permits for Switzerland

Swiss landing permits are needed only for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations and not for private non-revenue flights. Official charter permit processing lead time is five business days although permits can usually be obtained quicker if you have everything organized and submit requests during normal Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) business hours. Only standard aircraft documents – airworthiness and registration certificates, air operator certificate (AOC), and worldwide insurance conforming to European standards and showing denominations in standard drawing rights (SDRs) – need to be submitted with permit requests. There’s no requirement to provide a Foreign Operator Questionnaire (FOQ), as is the case with Germany, or a security questionnaire as required in France.

6. Airport slots and PPRs

Airport slots for LSGG are obtained online via a slot request system. Normally slots are obtained by your ground handler as a password and login is needed. Slots are issued in 19 minute blocks – for example 0700-0719, 0720-0739 and 0740-0759 local –, and these are strictly enforced. Upon slot approval, a confirmation number is provided, and this must be entered in the remarks section of your flight plan. While LSGG normally does not mandate prior permission required (PPR), this must be obtained during the EBACE period. Airport slots for Lyon (LFLL) have +/- 30 minutes validity while slots for Zurich (LSZH) have +/- 15 minutes validity. Both locations require that slot confirmations be noted in the remarks section of your flight plan. Basel (LFZB) mandates both airport slots and PPRs. LFSB currently has no slot or PPR requirements.

7. Ground support equipment

While all the above airports offer full support and ground support equipment (GSE) services to GA we recommend carrying a tow bar during the busy EBACE period. This is because of high volumes of movements and the possibility that tow bars and certain GSE may be in short supply.

8. CIQ clearance

Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) is cleared within general aviation terminals (GAT) at LSGG, LSZH, LFSB and LFLL, and it’s usually a quick process. Passports should have remaining validity of at least six months. In some cases, depending upon nationality, visas may be required. As visas cannot be processed in Switzerland on arrival, they must always be obtained when they are required, prior to operation.

NOTE: Since March 1, 2019, all non-Schengen flights will require a GENDEC. This is a new requirement from the Swiss Border Office. Arriving Flights: The GENDEC must be set no later than departure from the previous stop. Departing Flights: The GENDEC must be sent before clearing outbound customs and immigration. In both cases the handler must have time to send the GENDEC to the Swiss Border Office.

9. Aviation fuel uplifts

Fuel credit considerations are straightforward in Switzerland with fuel cards and consumer credit cards generally accepted. Be aware that fuel delays are not uncommon at LSGG, even during non-EBACE periods, so you may want to consider uplifting at least minimum fuel upon arrival. Value added tax (VAT) and mineral oil tax (MOT) in Switzerland can easily double the posted price of fuel. VAT and MOT exemptions at the pump are normally only possible for charter operators, and local authorities are strict in verifying exemptions. However, charter operators should be mindful that if the aircraft does not depart Switzerland within 24 hours of fuel uplift, VAT and MOT will be charged retroactively. They may, therefore, want to avoid uplifting fuel upon arrival, unless the stay is less than 24 hours.

10. Hotel and transport considerations

During EBACE hotels in Geneva will have higher prices and extended cancellation policies, with 4-star crew accommodation running as high at 300-500 USD per night. For local transport between the airport convention site and the city center, public taxis are recommended and local train services are also available to EBACE attendees. For crew staying across the border in France, where hotel prices are lower and availability is better, it may be worthwhile using rental vehicles for the 45-minute or so commute to the convention site.

11. Alternate airports

If you’re making short notice arrangements to attend EBACE, or if you’re not able to obtain the length of parking you require, several alternate airports are available. Alternates include Lyon (LFLL), Zurich (LSZH) and Basel (LFSB)–all of which are AOEs with full GA support services. Bern (LSZB) can also be considered, but the runway length is only 5,674 feet. You may also consider airports farther away, such as Milan (LIML), which is about a three-hour train journey from Geneva.

12. Lyon (LFLL)

LFLL is a 24-hour AOE for Stage 3 and above aircraft. Note that Stage 2 equipment may only operate during limited hours – 0615-2215 local for arrival and 0600-2215 local for departure. Aircraft at LFLL are prohibited from using thrust reversers between 2200-0600 local. While GA parking is not normally an issue at LFLL it may be during the EBACE period, as many EBACE attendees are likely to park aircraft here. Surface travel between LFLL is about one-and-a-half hours via high speed train.

13. Zurich (LSZH), Basel (LFSB) and Bern (LSZB)

During EBACE, LSZH and LFSB run into similar airport slot and parking issues, similar to LSGG. In the case of LSZB, GA parking options are always very limited. Plan on one-and-a-half to two hours travel time to reach LSGG from any of these alternates.

14. Basel parking choices

As LFSB straddles the border with Switzerland and France, different visa and immigration rules apply, depending on where you park. You may choose to park on either the French or Swiss side, depending upon your particular visas and visa requirements. The fixed based operator (FBO) can be accessed from both sides for customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance purposes.

Conclusion

For operators who make arrangements early, parking at LSGG may not be an issue over the EBACE period. But, if you’re heading over to EBACE on short notice or last minute, you may need to be prepared to reposition to a parking alternate. Preferred hotels in Geneva, particularly those close to the airport, will likely sell out. You may need to be creative in terms of crew accommodations and consider options across the border in France. Depending on your destination, airport slots and/or a PPR will be required. Due to the increased traffic, it’s recommended that these are requested in advance along with aircraft parking. Also, be aware of fuel taxes in this region and exemptions when available.


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