Business Aviation and the London International Boat Show – Part 1: Airports, Parking & Ground Handling
This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is General Manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the UK and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to the London Boat Show.
London International Boat Show takes place Jan 6-15, 2017 at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre, located in the Royal Victoria Docks area between Canary Wharf and the City. This annual event showcases top end yachts and yacht outfitting, and it attracts a steady volume of international general aviation (GA) operators. To obtain the best options for parking, accommodations, and local transport, it’s recommended to make arrangements early.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
The London area has plenty of available airports, first rate ground handling, and adequate parking for all operators attending this event. As the Boat Show venue is on the East side of London, certain airports will be more convenient than others. London City (EGLC) is closest airport to the venue, at about a 10 minute drive, followed by Stansted (EGSS) and Biggin Hill (EGKB), about 35 and 45 minutes away. Luton (EGGW) can also be considered, but this is about a 60 minute drive to the Boat Show and is more expensive for fuel and parking than other available options. Least attractive London airport locations, logistically speaking, are Northolt (EGWU) and Farnborough (EGLF) as they’re far off to the West of the city. All of these are airports or entry (AOEs).
2. Infrastructure and capacity
All GA traffic to the London International Boat Show should be able to be accommodated in the London area, and crew hotel availability should be adequate this time of year. London airport and fixed base operator (FBO) infrastructure is well-geared to handle peaks and troughs in GA traffic volumes throughout the year, and this is one of the region’s slower periods. The only potential limitation in terms of GA access and overnight parking will be at EGLC as this is a congested location with limited parking.
3. Aircraft parking
EGSS and EGKB always have plenty of GA parking, although EGKB limits size of equipment to nothing larger than a B737 BBJ or A318 ACJ. EGGW also has sizeable GA parking areas, but parking here can be a very expensive proposition vs EGSS and other London-area airports. As mentioned before, EGLC has limited parking, which can also be expensive compared to other area options, and it’s usually difficult to stay here more than one night. However, drop and go’s are not an issue at EGLC for aircraft models that qualify for the approach.
4. EGLC options
While a slot-controlled AOE, EGLC is the most challenging in terms of GA access, despite its proximity to the boat show. The airport authority restricts access to certain models of business jets, and it is often challenging to take off on a longer range flights due to runway length and takeoff restrictions. Overnight parking here is extremely limited, and this is the most expensive of London area airports for GA ops. Daily operating hours for EGLC are 0630-2230 local Monday-Friday, 0630-1300 local on Saturday, 1230-2230 local on Sunday, and 0900-2230 local on public or bank holidays. Overtime is available upon request.
5. EGKB considerations
On a map, this location appears to be closer to the Boat Show venue than EGSS. However, road access is not as efficient, and drive time to the event venue is longer. While EGKB has no airport slot or prior permission required (PPR) mandates, operating hours are limited to 0630-2300 local Monday through Friday and 0800-2200 on weekends and holidays. Note that departures between 0630 and 0730 local and arrivals between 2100 and 2200 local are only possible with prior permission from the airport authority. Support infrastructure is good with the two FBOs on the field, but the max size of aircraft accepted is capped at a B737 BBJ or A318 ACJ. So, if you’re arriving in a B757 you’ll need to land elsewhere.
5/10/2017: updated by the author
6. Ground handling
While it’s best to give local handlers a few hours advance notification, to ensure all required services are set up, London-area handlers can always make arrangements on short notice. Ground handlers suggest 24 – 48 hours’ notice for any in-flight catering requests.
7. Hotels and local transport
Arranging crew accommodations should not be a significant issue during the London Boat Show period as this is low season. Expect to pay about 160 USD/night for 4-star accommodations in the EGSS area and 225-300 USD/night for accommodations in the Docklands or London West End neighborhoods. For those staying in the Docklands, close to the London Boat Show venue, you can access the West End of London in 15-20 minutes via the Dockland light rail system. For local transport between airport and hotel, prepaid (car with driver) options are popular with more and more crew seem to be using Uber services these days.
8. Aviation fuel costs
Another important consideration is the fuel cost that you will encounter when traveling to the London area. For example, EGGW fuel prices are approximately 37% higher than fuel at EGSS. Note that there may be a considerable difference, so it’s worth obtaining a fuel quote in advance, as this may make one airport more attractive in terms of price.
The London Boat Show is a large event that attracts high traffic, including GA operators. As this city is accustomed to events, there are plenty of airports and hotels in the area to pick from. Note that some of the airports may be restricted due to aircraft size or operating hours, but there are other airports in the vicinity that operate 24/7.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers, permits, customs, immigration, and airport slots when traveling to London.
If you have any questions or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UK, contact me at email@example.com.