The Closing of Torrejon Airport Madrid – Changes Happening in February
This is a post by author Gonzalo Barona. Gonzalo is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Spain, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Madrid, and Gerona. Gonzalo is an expert on business aircraft operations in Spain and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After years of enjoying easy access to convenient Torrejon (LETO), general aviation (GA) operators are losing ability to use the popular airfield. LETO is about to close to all aviation movements other than approved military flights.
1. When will Torrejon (LETO) close to general aviation?
LETO will only be available for GA operations until 31 January 2013. Beginning 01 February, this airport may no longer be used by GA. Any corporate aircraft on the ground at LETO at this point will need to depart LETO and reposition to LEMD. In the past, AENA Group, the LETO airport authority, had paid a fee to the military for GA use of LETO, but this arrangement will now cease in order to reduce government costs. As of 01 February, the only airport serving Madrid will be Barajas (LEMD).
2. Will there be any GA operating exceptions for LETO?
LETO will be available only for military operations as of 01 February 2013. It will not be possible to use LETO as an alternate airport, and diplomatic flights will not be permitted to utilize LETO. Foreign military flights may be able to obtain permission to operate to LETO, but they’ll have to go through military channels to obtain landing rights. Only military-grade aviation fuel will be available on the field as of this change.
3. What are the operating considerations for LEMD?
LEMD operates 24 hours a day. Peak hours of airline operations are 0700 – 1100 and 1200 – 1400 local, but this does not affect GA operations, as there are four runways available. All GA movements will initially use a dedicated security gate for arrivals/departures. By the end of March 2013, a GA terminal – known as the Pavilion or “executive terminal” – will have been remodeled and activated to handle all GA movements on the field.
4. Are airport slots required for LEMD?
Airport slots are required for all arrivals/departures. Slots are requested from the airport authority via a ground handler, using a specific request format. LEMD slot office operates 24 hours and slot status will be known within an hour of a request. If a slot is not available, the airport authority will offer an alternative time for the slot requested. Once your airport slot is confirmed – with -/+15 minutes deviation available – aircraft parking will be confirmed simultaneously. Be advised that there will be a designated area at LEMD for all GA parking. Your actual parking spot, however, will not be known until after arrival. Some parking spots will be start-and-go while others will need a push back. There’s no requirement at LEMD to carry a tow bar onboard.
5. Is it necessary to cancel unused airport slots?
If your trip plans change, it’s important that you cancel any confirmed airport slots, as fines may apply if slots are not cancelled.
6. What are other considerations at LEMD?
Airport authorities have agreed to provide equal access to airport slots for both scheduled airline and GA operations, and we do not anticipate issues with GA slot availability at LEMD. Aircraft parking costs will be much higher at LEMD as compared with LETO – about four times higher. The airport authority may change these charges in the future, but no information of a change has been announced.
7. What’s the customs clearance process at LEMD?
Upon landing, passengers/crew will be transported to customs/immigration for clearance. Initially, clearance will be at the GA security gate until the new GAT opens in late March. Clearance process should normally take 5-10 minutes. Two to three copies of the gen dec must be submitted on arrival, and passengers (but not crew) need to complete arrival cards. Any passengers/crew requiring Schengen visas must have them on arrival, or entry into the country will be prohibited. Customs has authority to inspect luggage on arrival, even for domestic flights. On departure, passengers/crew and luggage goes through security and x-ray screening. Customs, immigration, and security clearance for international departures should take no more than 10 minutes. Private vehicles are not permitted on the ramp for planeside pick up at LEMD. Only 4th-party service providers with specific airport permission – which requires driver and vehicle approval, along with 250 million Euros insurance coverage – have vehicle access airside.
8. What’s the security situation like at LEMD?
LEMD offers effective 24/7 security by police and airport authorities, along with proper fencing and CCTV surveillance. Private security (armed or unarmed) is generally not permitted airside to guard your aircraft, but this status may change in future.
9. Is fuel availability and on-time delivery adequate?
Jet fuel is available at LEMD for GA aircraft via fuel trucks; however, hydrant fueling might be an option. There will be a fuel truck dedicated to GA operations. Tech stops can be accomplished within one hour in most cases. International tech stops require no customs or immigration clearance. For fuel payment, aviation fuel cards and Euros are accepted, but consumer credit cards and other cash currencies are not accepted at LEMD.
10. What are some local area considerations?
Good-quality hotels are available in the LEMD area, and plenty of 4- and 5-star hotel options, including large international hotel chains, can be found in the city. Drive time from LEMD to the city center is about 15 – 20 minutes without traffic and about 30 minutes with heavier traffic conditions.
Transition of all GA movements from LETO to LEMD should go smoothly and the new Pavilion, or executive terminal, should be a convenient option for clearing customs/immigration and working with local handlers. While aircraft parking costs at LEMD will be higher, and you’ll need to pre-arrange overtime for late night operations, LEMD has capacity to handle and provide parking for all anticipated GA operations.
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