Art Basel Switzerland 2023: Business Aviation Planning Guide

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Art Basel is one of the world’s premier modern and contemporary art shows and is held annually in Basel, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach. This year’s show in Basel, Switzerland will be held June 15-18, 2023. As usual, this event brings in above-average congestion for both local traffic as well as aircraft movements. General aviation (GA) operators planning flights to this event should expect limited overnight aircraft parking availability, limited hotels, and other congestion issues during June 14-19.

For operations during Art Basel, we recommend confirming ground handling as soon as possible. Many operators file handling requests as early as February each year to ensure services and crew accommodations will be available for Art Basel in June.

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


Primary Airport

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The primary airport for this event is Basel (LFSB), an airport of entry (AOE) with 0600-2200 local GA operating hours. This airfield is somewhat unique in that it’s bi-national, with the city located in Swiss territory and the airport on French territory. Two ICAOs – LFSB and LSZM – refer to the same airport but different sides of the airport.

Because LFSB is a Swiss airport on French territory, this requires arriving passengers to decide if they wish to clear customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) into Switzerland or France. For intercontinental arrivals, Swiss authorities handle the initial arrival of all passengers/crew. Once this is completed passengers will head toward either the Swiss or the French terminal.

The airport is about six miles and 15 minutes from the city center.

Stage 2 aircraft are not permitted here, and airport overtime is not possible.


Slots and PPRs

Prior permission required (PPR) is not needed for LFSB. While there are no airport slot requirements at this time, the airport authority reserves the right to implement emergency slot requirements, should congestion become an issue.


Parking

While PPRs aren’t needed, advance parking notifications should always be provided. GA parking, in most cases, will be limited to one hour on the ground at LFSB. Once parking/services are confirmed at LFSB or nearby alternates, we recommend no changes be made to the schedule and services requested. This is because elevated airport congestion during this period could lead to operational delays.

Overnight parking at LFSB will be extremely limited during June 13-21. Officially, GA parking will be restricted to one hour on the ground, so in most cases it’s going to be a drop-and-go operation. While overnight parking may be requested, there’s no guarantee these requests will be successful, and in most cases, they will not be.


LFSB Arrival and Handling Arrangements

Landing at Euroairport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. View of Bartenheim village

For operation to LFSB/LSZM, flight notification must be submitted in advance. This is to arrange ground handling and to notify the airport for arrival/departure CIQ clearance purposes. For flight notifications operators should provide:

  • full schedule
  • aircraft registration and tail number
  • crew and passenger information

Note that if flight notification has not been provided in advance there may be delays upon arrival.


CIQ

Upon arrival, passengers will be escorted to a private lounge at the fixed-base operator (FBO) for customs/immigration clearance, a 10–20-minute process. Crew also clear at this location, if it’s their first entry to Switzerland or the Schengen zone. Schengen visas are required for non-European Union (EU) and non-Swiss citizens and must be obtained prior to arrival.


Alternate Airports

Zurich airportIf you’re unable to obtain overnight parking at LSFB/LSZM, the best parking alternate is Zurich (LSZH) 49 nautical miles (NM) away. Additional alternates include Milan Linate (LIML), Lyon (LFLL) and Colmar-Houssen (LFGA) at 148, 150, and 32 NM from Basel, respectively. All of these are AOEs, with the exception of LFGA which is only an AOE upon request.


LFGA Considerations

Colmar, Alsace, France.

LFGA is one of the closer alternate airports to Basel, at about a 45-minute driving time. However, be mindful that LFGA has a shorter (5,282 ft) runway and limited hours of operation. To designate LFGA an AOE at least 24 hours notification is required, and 48 hours is recommended. Airport overtime may be requested for this location, but it’s at airport authority discretion to allow/disallow.


Hotels and Local Transport

Hotel accommodations in the Basel area will be in very high demand during Art Basel 2023 with most hotels close to the airport already sold out. Expect Basel’s already high crew room prices to be even more elevated during the Art Basel period, with extended cancellation policies in place. For local travel within the Basel area pre-paid transport (car with driver) and public taxis are available, and your ground handler can assist with arrangements.


Conclusion

Best practice when making arrangements to attend Art Basel is to confirm parking and hotel accommodations as early as possible. Avoid changes to your schedule to sidestep the risk of going to the bottom of the parking waiting list. Should you be making last-minute arrangements to attend Basel during this yearly event, repositioning to another airport for parking will likely be necessary.


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