Chinese 2015 Grand Prix – Part 2: Slots, Documentation & Local Area

PT 4 M minute read
Chinese 2015 Grand Prix – Part 2: Slots, Documentation & Local Area

This is a post by author Jimmy Young. Jimmy serves as country manager for Universal Aviation China, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Jimmy is an expert on business aircraft operations in China and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled "Chinese 2015 Grand Prix – Part 1: Shanghai Airport & Parking Options."

Operators to China must ensure that appropriate lead times are considered when requesting permits and slots. Be aware that documentation requirements and opportunities to revise schedules can be particularly strict when traveling to China.

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

1. Documentation

When you operate to China, it’s imperative that crew and passenger information always be accurate and provided in advance. Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) authorities are stringent on documentation requirements and accuracy, and they’ll confirm that all onboard have appropriate passports, visas, and other required documentation. If authorities find errors in any information/documentation provided, operators may be subject to fines of approximately $1,000 USD.

2. Landing permits

For China the lead time for landing permits is three business days. Be aware of all documentation requirements when operating to China – particularly the need for local sponsor letters – as well as the limitation of only up to two revisions per permit.

3. Airport slots and deviations

Civil Aviation Authority China wants operators to adhere to the approved slot times as much as possible, and there’s very little slot deviation permitted. Authorities are a bit more lenient on slots for international arrivals, as there are often traffic, weather, and departure delays at the point of origin to consider. However, be aware that airport authorities are particularly strict on adherence to departure slot times. It’s seldom problematic if your departure delay is within an hour, but if you wish to depart earlier than the approved slot time, particularly if there’s traffic congestion, you’ll need to apply for a new airport slot. If you expect you may miss a slot time, keep your ground handler and 3rd-party provider updated on your schedule status.

4. Visa requirements

It’s recommended that all crew members and passengers obtain visas prior to arrival in China. In certain cases 72-hour passenger transit visas on arrival are possible for Pudong (ZSPD) and Hongqiao (ZSSS). This, however, is dependent on nationality and flight arrival/departure details. For example a 72-hour visa on arrival is possible if you’re making an international arrival to Shanghai and then departing for a different international location. Anchorage (PANC) – ZSPD – Macau (VMMC) is an example of a qualifying itinerary. It’s important to be aware that the opportunity to extend a 72-hour transit visa is essentially nil and that these transit visas options are not available for crew members. Should you wish to consider a transit visa, it’s best to request this in advance, via your ground handler, to streamline visa processing times that can take up to two hours on arrival (if not arranged in advance).

5. Crew visa options

In the past General Aviation (GA) crews operating to China were always required to have "C"-type crew visas. These days, however, it’s often acceptable for crew members to arrive with either a crew or a standard business visa when traveling to Shanghai only. It’s recommended, however, that crew members with business visas first check with their 3rd-party provider to confirm that such visas will be accepted.

6. CIQ clearance

For arrival at either ZSPD or ZSSS, as your first airport of entry in China, CIQ personnel will meet your aircraft on arrival. Crew members need to be aware that the aircraft door may not be opened until CIQ officials advise you to do so. If CIQ personnel are not there when you arrive, you’ll need to stay onboard with doors closed. Failure to do so could lead to suspicion of potential illegal activity, causing questioning of all onboard and rigorous inspections of aircraft and luggage.

7. Hotels and ground transport

Hotels close to the Shanghai International Circuit will be very busy during the Grand Prix period. There are, however, plenty of good hotel options – including major international chains – in central Shanghai. Expect to pay approximately $300 and up per night for 5-star crew accommodations. For local transport within the Shanghai area, we recommend pre-paid transport options that have been vetted by your ground handler. Be aware that virtually no public taxi drivers in this area speak English, so, if you choose to take a taxi, be sure to have your ground handler coordinate this for you. While rental vehicles are available at Shanghai airports, this is not recommended unless you’re very familiar and comfortable with the local area. Road signs are often not in English when you travel outside the city, and traffic congestion is typically heavy in central Shanghai.

8. NOTAM considerations

It’s not likely that specific Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) will be issued during the Chinese Grand Prix event period. NOTAM restrictions are normally reserved for large political events in the area. During such times GA operations to Shanghai-area airports are restricted, with priority given to official government and/or military flights. During these times GA operators will likely need to reschedule flights to alternate destinations.


Check with your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler on the latest applicable requirements for landing permits including sponsor letter and visa mandates. Be aware of tight airport slot deviation allowances and restrictions on revising permits more than two times.

Universal is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX, and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing B.V.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to China, contact Christine Vamvakas

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