Operating to Spain during Summer Months
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.
For business aircraft operators, flying to the Mediterranean region of Spain during the summer high season is something to look forward to – particularly if you’re able to secure aircraft parking on arrival. When traveling during busy summer periods, always be sure to arrange Prior Permissions Required (PPRs), airport slots, aircraft parking, service requests and hotel accommodations as early as possible.
Here is some information to help you with your planning:
1. When is the high season in Spain?
For Spain Med-area destinations – such as Palma de Mallorca (LEPA), Ibiza (LEIB), Gerona (LEGE), Barcelona (LEBL) and Malaga (LEMG) – the high season is May-June and September-October. Madrid (LEMD) experiences a high season with elevated traffic levels in August and again in December-January.
2. What are operational considerations for Palma de Mallorca?
LEPA is a 24-hour Airport of Entry (AOE) requiring both airport slots and PPR. Airport slots should be requested at least two hours prior to operation, and slot approvals typically come through quickly. Your ground handler will request the PPR concurrent with the slot request. If there are issues with airport parking, they will be communicated by the slot coordinator. If no parking is available, you’ll be able to do a drop-and-go at LEPA. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to scheduled commercial operations. Ground handlers have extra manpower available during the high season, and there are dedicated fuel trucks for General Aviation (GA) operations. The average fuel uplift is 30-45 minutes, depending on volume. Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) is cleared in the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), with an average clearance time of about 15 minutes.
3. What are operational considerations for Ibiza?
LEIB is a very popular tourist destination, and GA parking availability can fill up here. Similar to LEPA, airport slots and PPRs are required. This is a 24-hour AOE, with CIQ available within the GAT and typical clearance times of about 15 minutes. Full ground handling, fuel and 4th-party services are available at LEIB.
4. What are operational considerations for Gerona?
This is a 24-hour AOE requiring airport slots and PPRs. CIQ clearance is typically about 15 minutes and is accomplished via a special entrance at the main terminal, and crew/passengers are never placed in the same lines as commercial passengers. Aircraft parking usually isn’t an issue at LEGE. Although scheduled commercial operations take fueling priority, GA fuel delays are rare, as ample fuel trucks are available.
5. What about Barcelona and Malaga?
Both LEBL and LEMG operate as 24-hour AOEs and require airport slots and PPRs. GATs are available at both airfields, with typical clearance times of under 15 minutes. Even during the summer season, there are seldom issues with day and/or overnight parking. Full ground handling, credit and fuel services are available at both locations.
6. Any tips on aircraft parking nuances?
Some popular Med-region locations in Spain have overnight parking limitations. Best practice is to book aircraft parking and request PPR as soon as the schedule is known. Be aware that airport parking costs in Spain have increased, in some cases dramatically, over recent years. Rather than parking for a long period of time at high-cost locations, it’s recommended to drop passengers and reposition to a less expensive parking location. It’s best to speak to your 3rd-party provider or ground handler regarding costs for particular locations.
7. What about CIQ considerations?
Your ground handler will submit crew/passenger/aircraft details to authorities in advance and escort passengers/crew to either the GAT or main terminal for clearance. If you’re bringing a pet into Spain, it must have all vaccinations up to date and a health certificate. It’s best to send this information to your ground handler in advance to avoid delays on arrival. Special processes must be considered if you’re bringing weapons into the country. Hunting weapons may be permitted with prior arrangement. Personal protection weapons, silencers and extended ammo clips will need to remain onboard your aircraft or be stored at a specific location at the airport.
8. What about flight planning tips?
All flight plans are filed via Eurocontrol, and flight plans must match airport slots given. If the flight plan does not match the slots, air traffic control (ATC) will coordinate any needed changes with the ground handler or directly with the operator. Should you have a schedule change, keep in mind that it’s usually easier to delay an airport slot than to request a new slot for an earlier departure.
9. What about hotel, local transport and security considerations?
Hotels at popular locations in Spain fill up fast during high season, costs are higher and extended cancellation policies are in place. If you’re looking for special local transport options – an SUV or a stretch limo, for example – it’s best to make requests as soon as possible, and expect there to be limited availability. Airports in Spain are secure, and all have cameras, police patrols and security checkpoints. Hiring private guards to watch your aircraft airside is usually not an option, and, if allowed, the guard must be unarmed.
Assuming that parking and hotel accommodations can be arranged at your destinations, there are not a lot of operating challenges to Spain, even during busier periods. If you’re putting together a last-minute trip during summer months, however, you may want to consider a drop-and-go.
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