Winter Business Aircraft Operations to Paris, France
This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Le Bourget (LFPB) is the primary General Aviation (GA) airport for Paris, and there are considerations to keep in mind when operating to this location during winter months. LFPB is one of Europe’s premier GA airports and an easy operational destination.
If you are flying to Paris this winter, the following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Winter considerations for Paris
Winter season in northern France is November through early March, with December and February being the coldest months. During winter, there’s often morning fog to consider, with snow accumulation, on occasion, November through April. Average winter temperature in the Paris area is 3-4oC (37.4-39.2oF), but temperatures dropped as low as -13oC (8.6oF) last year. Over recent winters, there’s been snow at LFPB, and recently LFPB airport authorities have invested in additional snow removal equipment. They’ve been diligent in removing snow on runways and taxiways but slower in terms of removing snow accumulation from ramp areas.
2. Know operating hours for LFPB
This location is open 24 hours for arrivals but only available 0600-2200 local for departures. No overtime is possible for departures during curfew hours, unless it’s an air ambulance or diplomatic flight. If you depart LFPB outside of posted departure hours you’ll receive a letter asking for an explanation, and you may be subject to a fine of up to 15,000 Euros.
3. Traffic volumes are somewhat lower during winter
Movements to LFPB remain relatively stable September through November, but generally slow down from that point through late February. There are occasional trade shows taking place in Paris during November, and preferred hotels may fill up from time to time. A large yachting show occurs in December, which can also impact hotel availability. During winter holiday periods – including Christmas and New Year’s – there are no peak travel times or airport congestion impacting GA operations.
4. Winter issues
Be aware that there may be potential for operational delays when departing LFPB during winter time. This may include morning fog issues and delays due to availability of de-icing equipment. Road conditions may be slower during colder periods, so plan on additional driving time between the airport and city center. In-flight catering, sourced off-airport, may also experience delays due to inclement weather. It’s always best to provide at least 24 hours’ notification of catering requirements and to have catering delivered to the airport/aircraft earlier during winter months. Additionally, during cold weather or snow events, Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and airport employees may not be able to get to the airport on time, which may add to operational delays.
5. Consider availability of alternate airports
Charles De Gaulle (LFPG) and Orly (LFPO) are oriented toward scheduled commercial operations and should not be considered GA alternates. GA movements are not permitted at those airfields unless you have passengers connecting to commercial arrivals/departures. When LFPB is closed due to weather, LFPG will most likely also be closed. One alternative to LFPB is Vatry (LFOK). This, however, is an airport of entry (AOE) only upon request, and a minimum of 48 hours’ advance notification is required. In the case of a diversion, however, airport authorities will be more lenient in terms of customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance. Drive time between LFOK and LFPB is about one hour depending on weather and traffic.
6. Aircraft hangar availability
Hangar space is available at LFPB for transient aircraft and can accommodate up to ACJ- and BBJ-sized equipment. Hangar space at LFPB may be requested and confirmed in advance via your ground handler. Space, however, is limited to a few hangars, and availability during winter months may be limited. One benefit of booking a hangar during cold weather periods is the ability to avoid de-icing pre-departure. You may save money by booking a hangar as you’ll avoid both ramp parking charges and de-ice costs.
7. De-ice delays
De-icing equipment/services are offered by three suppliers at LFPB. There may, however, be delays of 30-60 minutes or longer to de-ice aircraft during winter. In rare cases, the airport runs out of de-ice fluid when cold weather conditions last longer than expected. If you plan to depart early in the morning, and icing conditions are expected, it’s best to keep your aircraft in a hangar overnight.
Plan ahead when operating to Paris, or northern Europe, during winter months. In the case of LFPB, it’s important to monitor local weather and forecasts pre-trip. If icing conditions are anticipated, or could become a factor, it’s best to avoid potential operating delays by arranging hangar space in advance.
If you have any questions about this article or would like more information regarding operating to Paris, including securing hangar spacing during the winter months, contact me at email@example.com.