Last Minute Trip Changes: How They Can Affect Your Business Aviation Trip
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on last-minute changes and how they may affect your trip.
When considering last-minute schedule changes, be aware of limitations and/or downstream consequences with your arrangements. Before submitting change requests, know how they will affect not only where you’re going, but also any down-line schedules. You’ll often have a small window when making last-minute revisions. Advanced research and working with a 3rd-party provider are among your best tools in successfully accommodating last-minute changes.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Know the main problem areas when making short-notice revisions
Challenging issues for short-notice changes can include permits, visas, curfews, airport closures, airport slot unavailability, Prior Permissions Required (PPRs), parking, ground handling (when services are not available 24 hours a day), fuel and hotel availability. For example arranging a short-notice airport slot or revision for Haneda, Tokyo (RJTT) or Narita, Tokyo (RJAA) may be challenging. If you need to revise last minute a schedule to St. Maarten (TNCM) or Naples (LIRN) during high season, parking may not be available. Also, PPR requirements in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Brazil often limit options for last-minute schedule changes.
2. You may be restricted in options for last-minute schedule revisions
Airport slots cannot always be revised 24 hours a day (as slot offices may be closed). PPRs for joint civil-military airports (particularly when required for parking) can be somewhat inflexible. Curfew issues – including temporary closures and airport closure hours – can limit schedule change ability. For example, Geneva (LSGG) closes at 2200 local, with no overtime or extensions possible. Some airports restrict fueling at night, and there may be additional charges for late evening fuel uplifts. Ground handling services may also not always be available during certain hours, or you may have to pay an additional fee for after-hours’ service. Hotels may be sold out, particularly during large events or high season, and this can further challenge last-minute schedule changes.
3. Certain regions can be more difficult in terms of last-minute changes
Permits for Asian, Middle East, and African regions often have shorter deviation windows and can be more difficult to adapt last minute. China can be particular regarding multiple permit change requests. The Mediterranean region (particularly during summer months and periods of major events) may be particularly difficult in terms of parking availability. Some locations in the Mediterranean only advise parking status 24 hours prior to arrival and may limit parking to 72 hours.
4. Schedule changes can be more challenging for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators
Charter permits for Germany require four business days, so last-minute schedule changes can delay you two days to process a new permit. (If it’s during the weekend, the processing time will be longer). Permits for Italy can be more inflexible in terms of passenger changes, due to cabotage restrictions.
Normally, you must carry the same passengers in and out and operate to all stops on the approved permit. Adding or deleting a passenger may require a new permit (with associated delays). Crew duty time limits can also impact options for last-minute changes. The above are all examples of how changes may have a larger impact on charter operations.
5. Visa issues may be a consideration
Some countries allow crew to arrive without visas if crew members are indicated on the general declaration but limit your stay in country. If a last-minute change keeps your aircraft in country longer than the permissible timeframe, the crew will run into problems, and they may have to leave the country.
6. Crew duty time may limit ability to make last-minute changes
Crew duty time is a concern for charter operators and even private non-revenue operators in certain regions of the world, based on their company’s standard operating procedures. You may not be able to accomplish a desired schedule change without an additional (rested) pilot available.
For example, you may have a charter flight from Europe to the U.S. via Canada, where U.S. Customs denies a revised early arrival for customs clearance due to no overtime available. As available crew duty time may not allow for a second tech stop or to arrive at the destination at the scheduled arrival time and wait until customs opens, crew will have to either:
a) change the schedule to arrive earlier (before customs closes),
b) delay the departure further until U.S. Customs opens at the requested destination, or
c) augment the crew.
Airport closures often impact crew duty time. For example, if you arrive in Ciampino, Rome (LIRA) after closure time, you’ll be diverted to Fiumicino, Rome (LIRF), and such changes may require having additional (rested) crewmember on standby if crew duty time is exceeded. Not all airports offer overtime, and those that do typically require 24-72 hours’ notice. Sondre Stromfjord (BGSF), for example, is closed Sundays, but overtime can be arranged with a minimum of nine hours’ notice (but you’ll have to arrive/depart during a specified window).
Whenever last-minute schedule changes are considered, be aware that your options may be restricted. This may be due to permit lead time requirements, visa issues, airport slot availability, or airport curfews.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers information on available options for last-minute changes.