F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2023: Business Aviation Planning Guide
The Spanish F1 Grand Prix 2023 will be held June 2-4, 2023, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmeló, north of Barcelona. This event will bring heavier-than-normal traffic to Barcelona (LEBL) and Gierona (LEGE), with significant road congestion anticipated to/from the race circuit. In addition, general aviation (GA) arrivals for this event are expected to start the week before and will remain congested a day or two following the race. The following is an overview of what you need to know:
The race will be held at Circuit de Catalunya in Montmeló, north of Barcelona. The schedule is as follows:
- Friday, June 2nd: Practice
- Saturday, June 3rd: Qualifying
- Sunday, June 4th: Race
Barcelona is already world-renowned for its nightlife, restaurants, clubs and shopping. With the jet set descending on the Catalonia region, there will be 72 hours of non-stop entertainment. Click here for info on some of the most popular clubs and restaurants.
Primary airports to consider
As the Spanish Grand Prix venue is approximately midway between Barcelona (LEBL) and Girona (LEGE), both airports are good options for passengers planning to attend the event. Drive time from Girona to the race circuit will be approximately 40 minutes. Still, the commute from downtown Barcelona could run 90 minutes or so, considering the city’s heavy traffic congestion. So irrespective of which airport you’re commuting in from, you’ll be faced with significant congestion at the entrance to the event unless you’ve opted for a helicopter transfer.
LEBL is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with 24-hour customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance and plenty of general aviation (GA) parking available. However, hangar accommodation is not possible here for transient GA movements. A general aviation terminal (GAT) is available at LEBL, along with complete GA support services and credit. You can read more in our Barcelona Business Aviation Destination Guide.
LEGE is a 24-hour AOE with 24-hour CIQ, plenty of aircraft parking, and complete GA support services and credit available. To confirm parking at this location, your ground handler will send a request to the airport authority, together with your schedule. In many ways, LEGE is a better GA option than LEBL for this event as surface travel to the race circuit can be about an hour quicker, there’s plenty of parking available, and parking charges are lower than LEBL. For example, the average parking cost for a 40-ton aircraft at LEGE is approximately 190 Euros for 24 hours, while equivalent parking costs at LEBL are about 400 Euros. Although fewer hotel accommodation options exist in Girona, good quality hotels are available for crew accommodation.
Parking and GSE
Operators are permitted to park for as long as they wish at either LEBL or LEGE so long as prior parking approval has been obtained. We seldom encounter issues with extended parking at either airport. Both locations offer a full range of ground support equipment (GSE), and it’s not generally necessary to bring tow bars or chocks. For LEBL, about 80 percent of GA parking stands require pushback, but ground handlers have all necessary equipment. In the case of LEGE, none of the GA parking stands require pushbacks. Be mindful that when on the ramp, crew must wear high-visibility vests at all times. Follow-me truck operators look out for compliance with these rules and will determine whether to notify you to put one on or fine you 1000 Euros for not following security procedures.
Fuel delays can be expected at either airport when making an uplift request during or shortly after the Grand Prix period. LEGE has no fuel trucks dedicated to GA, and delays can be expected for all uplifts during the Grand Prix period due to heightened traffic movements. Therefore, unless you’re planning to depart a few days after the event, we recommend uplifting fuel a day before departure. Typical fuel uplift delays at LEGE are up to 30 minutes, but delays may run up to three-four hours during the Spanish Grand Prix period. LEBL has dedicated fuel trucks for GA; however, during large events like the Grand Prix, these trucks may also be used to fuel scheduled commercial operations. Therefore, we recommend scheduling fuel uplifts one day before departure for the Grand Prix period unless you plan to depart LEBL several days after the race.
Hotel room pricing in Barcelona, Girona, and close to the race circuit will be higher than usual, with extended cancelation policies likely in place during the Grand Prix. Currently, the average price for 4-star crew accommodations is running 250-300 Euros, but this will likely increase as we get closer to the event.
CIQ clearance and visas
LEBL has a general aviation terminal (GAT) where CIQ can usually be cleared in less than five minutes. However, LEGE has no GAT or fixed-base operator (FBO), and you’ll clear CIQ within the main terminal at some designated area, exclusive for GA. This clearance process is done separately from scheduled commercial clearances and generally takes less than five minutes. These must be obtained before arrival if you require visas for Spain based on your nationality. Those who land in Spain without required visas will not be permitted into the country.
Pre-paid transport (car with driver) is recommended for travel to/from the race circuit from Barcelona or Girona. We do not recommend rental vehicles for most crew transport as vehicle parking will be extremely difficult in city centers and race venues. Helicopter transfers can be considered to and from the airport and the racetrack, but there are no options for helicopter services between the city centers and the track. As helicopter transfers will be in high demand over this period, we suggest requesting these services as early as possible.
When operating to LEBL or LEGE for the Spanish Grand Prix, it’s best to arrive a day or two before the start of the race and to depart a day or two after the race is over. This will allow operating into and out of congested airports. Be aware that LEBL is under the E-CDM program, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with this process. As this will be a busy period for the region, fuel uplifts will likely encounter delays at both airports. Also, for charter operators, the landing permit requirements must be kept in mind. If you’re planning on operating to the Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Universal Aviation Spain can help!