Aircraft Ops Planning for the 2019 Mexico City F1 Grand Prix
Are you operating to Mexico City for the 2019 Formula One (F1) Grand Prix? If so, you’re not alone. Last year’s race attracted was the second highest attended F1 race of 2018 at more than 334,000 spectators. Since its return to Mexico City in 2015, the Mexican Grand Prix, has become a major international event, drawing large numbers of drivers and their teams, race enthusiasts, celebrities and corporate sponsors from around the world.
In a city the size of Mexico City, a few hundred thousand people, can be easily absorbed. The region’s business aviation infrastructure is another story. Whether you’re planning on attending the race or just might be in the region the week it’s held – your planning should begin now. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The race
The race will be held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The schedule is as follows:
- Friday-saturday, October 25-26th: Practice
- Saturday, October 26th: Qualifying
- Sunday, October 27th: Race
2. VIP nightlife
F1 Grand Prix’s attract more than race enthusiasts, and the race itself is merely the finale of a high-traffic period of race-related events throughout Mexico City. A who’s who of international celebrities and jetsetters will flock to Mexico City to see and be seen at its legendary VIP nightlife.
Click here for more on the F1 Mexican Grand Prix Experiences packages.
3. Preferred airport – Toluca International
Toluca (MMTO) is the primary and realistically only airport option for General Aviation (GA) operators attending the race, as Mexico City (MMMX) is predominantly reserved for scheduled commercial and head of state operations, and it’s very difficult to arrange GA access into this location. MMTO is a 24-hour airport of entry with 24/7 Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance, full GA support services, Ground Support Equipment (GSE), aviation fuel, in-flight catering, and ample parking (depending on the FBO used). Drive time from MMTO to Mexico City is between one and a half and two hours, depending on traffic.
4. Parking options
Parking is at a premium and not all FBOs and hangars are the same. During peak periods, some handlers can be seen virtually stacking aircraft on top of each other, so be sure to ask your ground handler their safety procedures including minimum distance separation for parking. Similarly, Due to space restrictions, overnight hangar parking will be in short supply and high demand during this period—especially for transient, non-based operators.
4. Fuel uplifts
You have two fueling options at MMTO: ASA or from your FBO’s fuel truck. We recommend using your FBO, as ASA’s priority is commercial operations, so delays of 40-90 minutes for GA uplifts are not unusual. Fueling with an FBO is usually more efficient, but be sure to make uplift arrangements in advance to ensure credit is in place. Universal Aviation Mexico – Toluca maintains its own fuel truck for timely uplifts.
Airport security at MMTO is good, with support from military, federal police and airport guard services, rendering additional private security for your aircraft unnecessary. Within Mexico City, use common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and avoid well-known higher risk areas, particularly at night, and only use pre-vetted transportation.
6. Local transport
Using un-vetted taxis and ground transport is discouraged. The safest and most efficient option for navigating Mexico City’s congested traffic is via pre-paid (car with driver) ground transport. Because this is the best option, availability is usually limited during high-traffic events, so it’s best to book early. You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs.
Demand for preferred hotel accommodations and pricing, will be higher than normal during the Grand Prix and may sell out. While crew should not have a problem securing 4–star accommodations in the MMTO area this location is not recommended for passengers due to long travel times to event sites.
If you’re planning to operate to Mexico City for the 2019 Formula One (F1) Grand Prix, preparation should begin now. Parking and third-party services will be at a premium before and after the event.
Beginning fall 2019 and extending into winter will be an extreme high-traffic period for business aviation in Mexico City. Some of the upcoming high-traffic events include: