BizAv Ops Planning: Art Basel (Switzerland) 2015

PT 4 M minute read
BizAv Ops Planning: Art Basel (Switzerland) 2015

The premier international show for modern and contemporary artwork, Art Basel (Switzerland) takes place June 18-21, 2015. This is a yearly event and attendees will arrive to view art from some 300 leading galleries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. Those planning to operate general aviation (GA) aircraft to this event should request parking, services and hotel accommodations now – preferably, 2 months in advance – if they haven’t already.

If you are planning on operating into the area to attend, the following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Primary airport for this event

Basel (LFSB) is the primary airport for those attending Art Basel 2015. LFSB is a Swiss airport on French territory, and 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 initial arrival of all passengers/crew. Once this is completed passengers will head toward either the Swiss or the French terminal.

2. Parking availability

There are seven GA parking spots available at LFSB. In addition, there is a small hangar, with a parking area in front, and these areas are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Once you have parking confirmation there’s no limit to how long you may stay. However, when parking fills up at LFSB, operators will be restricted to one hour on the ground to drop, go, and reposition.

3. Parking alternates

If you’re unable to secure parking at LFSB, alternates to consider include Zurich (LSZH) and Geneva (LSGG). You also have the option of using Colmar-Houssen (LFGA) for parking purposes only. Note that LFGA is a small airfield with a 5,282 foot runway and is only available as an airport of entry (AOE) on request. This location has limited operating hours. Be aware that parking may also fill up at traditional alternate airports during the Art Basel period. It’s important, therefore, to have a firm schedule as early as possible so that parking arrangements can be confirmed.

4. Anticipated congestion

We expect all parking spots at LFSB to fill up by June 17. After this time, all new arrivals will be required to reposition to another airfield per NOTAMs. Be mindful that for drop and goes you’ll only be allowed one hour on the ground. Any needed fuel uplifts or aircraft services need to be pre-arranged so that they can be accomplished within this one hour window.

5. Airport slot considerations

Airport slots are only implemented at LFSB in special situations and when traffic demand becomes overwhelming. At this time no slot requirements are anticipated for the Art Basel period. However, this situation may change if traffic volume increases significantly. Slot requirements at LFSB would pertain more to parking availability, rather than runway capacity.

6. Last minute planning

For last minute GA operations you’ll need to depart LFSB and reposition within one hour of landing. Be sure that any required services have been pre-arranged – usually via credit from your ground handler – and be aware that there will be 50% surcharges on all services and fees during the June 14 – 21 period.

7. Schedule revisions

Be mindful that schedule revisions may jeopardize any confirmed parking reservations you may have at LFSB. Requesting a schedule change will likely put you to the back of the parking spot waiting list. For this reason it’s best to ensure that schedules are firm prior to requesting parking.

8. Flight notification requirements

When operating to LFSB, at least two hours prior notice of landing/departure must be provided, as a “flight notification” to your ground handler who in turn will notify Swiss customs. If flight notification is not provided the aircraft may be blocked upon arrival or before departure, and crew may be obliged to remain onboard until customs officers perform passport checks.

9. CIQ procedures

Arriving and departing LFSB is generally a smooth and quick process from the CIQ perspective – as Swiss authorities will complete the process regardless of which side your passengers are traveling to. While this process is usually just a walk through, with very little delay, customs officers may request to inspect passenger/crew luggage. Note that when arriving from a Schengen country no passport control procedures are required in Switzerland. Visas may, however, be needed – depending on nationality – and any visa requirements should always be confirmed in advance. There’s a small VIP lounge available at LFSB, with coffee and beverages if passengers would like to use it.

10. Hotel accommodations

Preferred hotels in the Basel area sell out fast during the Art Basel period. It’s recommended to book hotel accommodations up to a year in advance. During the Art Basel period expect hotel room prices to be higher than normal with cancellation fees in effect.

11. Local transport considerations

For local area transport prepaid options (car with driver) and public taxis are readily available. Prepaid transport is usually even more expensive than Swiss taxis, but these services can be arranged by your ground handler.


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 side step 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.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your trip to this event, contact me at

Got a question for Christopher about this article?