Business Aviation in Barcelona Series: Part 1 – Airport Considerations
This is a post by author Gonzalo Barona. Gonzalo is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Spain, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Madrid, Gerona, and Barcelona. Gonzalo is an expert on business aircraft operations in Spain and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a on operating to Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and has become even more popular as a business and tourism destination over recent years. If you have a trip to this beautiful and culturally inspiring part of the world, it’s something to look forward to. Barcelona (LEBL) is an accommodating airfield and not a difficult proposition from the regulatory perspective; however, there are certain local procedures and restrictions to be aware of.
The following is an overview of what airport considerations you need to know when operating to Barcelona:
1. Airport choices for Barcelona
LEBL is the primary airport for Barcelona, with Girona (LEGE) as the alternate option, if aircraft parking becomes an issue. For General Aviation (GA) operations to Barcelona, LEBL is the most frequently used airfield and usually the airport of choice.
2. LEBL considerations
LEBL is a 24-hour airport of entry with no noise restrictions or curfews for Stage 3 and above operations. Peak hours of scheduled commercial activity are typically 0700-1400 local, but this location seldom experiences arrival/departure holds or delays. Runways, taxiways, and ramp areas at LEBL are in good condition. A 24-hour GA Terminal (GAT) is available at LEBL, with Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance on site 0600-2359 local. For operations after normal CIQ hours, overtime is possible with a couple of hours’ advance notification. For operations between 2359 and 0559 local, there’s no surcharge for CIQ service; however, you’ll be charged for security services at the GAT. At this location you may only use an auxiliary power unit for 10 minutes after landing and 10 minutes before departure. All operations to LEBL, or any airport in Spain, must be Stage 3 or Stage 2 hush-kitted to Stage 3 standards because Stage 2 movements are not permitted. If airport authorities check and determine that you’re operating with Stage 2 equipment, there will be issues. European Aviation Safety Agency agents perform random ramp checks from time to time, to confirm aircraft and crew documentation.
3. Parking at LEBL
Approximately 40 GA parking spots are available at LEBL, and these are conveniently located close to the GAT. LEBL has no restrictions on aircraft size. If you have large, wide-body equipment, such as an Airbus A340 or Boeing 777/747, you’ll be parked on the commercial/airline side and transported to the GAT for CIQ clearance. Otherwise, you’ll be parked next to the GAT. Depending on the GA ramp parking spot, you may be able to power in/out or may require a push back. Parking costs at LEBL are based on maximum takeoff weight. There are no length-of-stay parking limitations here unless a large local event is going on. During periods of high congestion, airport authorities may advise you to leave after a certain amount of time. In rare cases when airport congestion is significant, you may need to drop and go at LEBL and reposition your aircraft elsewhere.
4. LEBL security
LEBL is a very secure airfield complete with private and airport security services, proper fencing, secure airport access checkpoints, and regular patrols. Please note that private aircraft security is not possible or permitted at this location unless your flight is diplomatic. Private vehicles are not allowed airside at LEBL – other than for air ambulance and qualifying diplomatic operations.
Weapons may be brought into Spain aboard diplomatic flights. Non-diplomatic operators may import hunting equipment with proper advance arrangements. The owner of the weapon must have a license for it, and the company hosting the hunting trip must provide supporting documentation to the ground handler, who will forward this to customs. It’s recommended that supporting documentation be sent to your handler at least a few days in advance. Ammunition may be imported but, depending on quantity, may be considered dangerous goods and require special handling. There’s an on-airport facility at LEBL to store weapons/ammunition if you have not secured advance permission to bring it into the country.
5. In-flight catering considerations
In-flight caterers are available at LEBL 24 hours, and they’re adept at meeting higher-end GA catering requirements. It’s always best to provide at least 24 hours’ advance notification of catering requirements, especially for special requests. Catering at this location, however, can usually be successfully sourced with just a few hours’ notice. It’s recommended that operators take advantage of in-flight caterers at LEBL, as local restaurants may not be able to provide bulk food options and/or deliver food cooled to appropriate health standards.
6. Fuel options
There are a few different fuel suppliers on the field at LEBL, as well as hydrant fuel facilities on the commercial side. The GAT has no restrictions on which fuel supplier you may use. It’s best, however, to specify in advance which fuel supplier you’d like to deal with. Major aviation fuel cards are normally accepted, but it’s always good policy to carry a fuel release.
7. Hotel and local transport options
High-quality hotels – including large international chains – are plentiful in the Barcelona area. Average price of a 4-star crew room is 140-150 Euros per night, but this increases during high season, or if special events – such as the Spanish Grand Prix or Barcelona Boat Show – are taking place. It’s not recommended for crews unfamiliar with the area to rent vehicles in Barcelona. This is because local traffic is heavy, most road signs are in Spanish, and local drivers have their own special driving techniques. Pre-paid (car with driver) transport or vetted taxi services are preferred options.
8. Comply with EU-ETS
Intra-European Union (EU) flights (flights departing and arriving within the EU) may be required to comply with EU-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) monitoring, reporting and carbon trading requirements. You can read our series on aviation EU-ETS or visit the EU-ETS Resource Center for more information.
Barcelona is one of the better no-hassle operating destinations within the EU, and parking availability is usually plentiful at this location.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Spain, contact me at email@example.com.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers more information on operating to Barcelona, Spain.