Shanghai, China: 2023 Business Aviation Destination Guide
Shanghai is the largest city in China and one of the largest in the world, with a large number of international corporations and businesses operating in the region. As a result, the city has become a hub for business aviation, with a high volume of private jets and other business aircraft visiting each year.
With the country’s reopening to foreign visitors in 2023, the city is poised for a massive rebound in international traffic.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Shanghai Area Airport Options
Shanghai is served by two highly congested airports – Hongqiao (ZSSS) with a curfew of 1601-2200Z(0001-0600LT) each day and Pudong (ZSPD) 24-hour– with each having different general aviation (GA) access and parking considerations.
Historically, ZSPD was primarily geared toward scheduled commercial airlines. It is located about 20 miles east of Shanghai and about a one-hour drive into the city center.
ZSSS is around seven miles north of the city, about a 25-minute drive to the city center.
If you’re arriving into China, internationally, Hongqiao is now the only option.
Which airport you choose primarily comes down to if you’re arriving internationally or are making a domestic stop.
Pudong Airport (ZSPD)
Curfews, Slots, Parking & PPR
Pudong is a 24-hour Airport of Entry. ZSPD is available to GA 22 hours per day, other than between 0700-0900 local. During peak hours (0900-2200 LCL) GA aircraft are limited to one movement per tail number (one arrival or one departure), and no quick turns are allowed.
GA operations are not recommended between 2359-0700 local, as services may be somewhat limited, and delays are possible. Peak hour restrictions can challenge crew duty day limitations, particularly for charter (non-scheduled commercial).
Slots are valid -0/+30 minutes. All slot times are confirmed in ZULU/UTC. Slots will be confirmed with landing permit approval automatically.
No PPR is required.
GA parking is officially restricted to two consecutive overnights. The airport authority will entertain requests for extended parking at this location, but usually only for one additional night.
Most ZSPD GA parking stands are self-taxi, and services can usually be performed at the assigned parking location. Note that it’s not necessary to reposition aircraft on the field at ZSPD, but the crew must be present if relocation of an aircraft is necessary.
Facilities & Ground Handlers
Pudong is well stocked in terms of ground support equipment (GSE) and is able to accommodate virtually all models of GA equipment.
UPDATE: According to an August 2023 notice from ZSPD CIQ, for ZSPD international inbound and outbound flights, the crew and passenger information needs to be confirmed before 0400Z the day before a flight, afterward CIQ will not accept additional crew and pax. CIQ will only accept NO SHOW.
At Pudong (ZSPD) you’ll always clear in the main terminal, via separate dedicated lines, and should plan on a 30-minute clearance time plus 15 minutes of transport from your aircraft to the clearance area. Note that ZSPD has a VIP clearance option available, but use of this is restricted.
On departure, you’ll clear security/immigration in the main terminal and walk through the terminal to a specified departure gate where you’ll be met by your handler who will have transport waiting outside the gate. Plan on 20-25 minutes to clear security and immigration outbound plus 15 minutes for bus transport from the gate to your aircraft – about 40 minutes in total.
There’s a VIP clearance facility ZSPD, where passengers wait in a main terminal lounge while passports are taken in for processing. To access this facility you’ll need special approval and an invitation letter from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While there’s no additional charge for this service, only certain passengers with special relationships qualify to use the VIP option. Note that your ground handler is not permitted to assist in applying for this invitation letter as it’s something operators need to do on their own.
NOTE: ZSSS Airport authority has announced that starting from 1200LT on 01AUG 2023, ZSSS will suspend CIQ services for all G/A operations due to CIQ channel renovation. Domestic trips entering and exiting ZSSS will not be impacted.
Therefore, all international G/A trips to Shanghai MUST temporarily use ZSPD.
Curfews, Slots, Parking & PPR
While Hongqiao (ZSSS) has better GA infrastructure and is much closer to downtown and provides an FBO facility for GA domestic flights.
ZSSS has a very stringent curfew from 0001LT-0600LT (1601UTC-2200UTC).
Slots are required. No slots are available for GA from 0700-0900 LT daily. You will have a 50-50 chance to get slots during peak hours (0900LT—2200LT) for quick turns (one arrival and one departure).
Flights to/from the east and northeast of Shanghai ZSSS can now use both ZSPD and ZSSS airports. There’s an FBO with CIQ at ZSSS, but it can be busy. ZSSS will only confirm parking a day before or just hours before arrival. If outside parking is full, they’ll try for hangar space. No PPR is required.
At ZSSS GA parking is officially limited to 72 hours. However, you may apply to park in the Centralized Parking Area where there are no length of stay restrictions, but aircraft size restrictions apply. For example, you may park up to a 5-series Gulfstream in this area but not the larger 6-series equipment. If you wish to park at ZSSS for an extended stay it’s best to apply as soon as your schedule is known. Considering that ZSPD has been shut down, long-term overnight parking will be much harder to secure.
Facilities & Ground Handlers
ZSSS has a full-service Fixed-Base Operator (FBO), with crew lounges, a business center, and passenger lounges. But as ZSSS has just reopened for international flights since 26 March, 2023, CIQ is not ready to serve in the FBO, as a result currently the FBO only serves domestic flights. International flights will have to use the main terminal-T1 where pax need to share channel and facility, x-ray with commercial flight pax. When CIQ can be cleared in the FBO is TBD.
ZSSS is well stocked in terms of ground support equipment (GSE) and are able to accommodate virtually all models of GA equipment.
Work hours: 0800-2200LT
Upon arrival, a customs and immigration officer will get onboard the aircraft for inspection. After disembarking the aircraft, a VIP Shuttle will take passengers to Terminal 1. They will clear the Customs in Terminal 1 and will meet their driver and local contact at the exit of international arrival once they finished the CIQ. Passengers will share CIQ facility with commercial flight passengers in the terminal.
When the crew is ready to disembark, a crew shuttle will take them to Terminal 1. Crew will also clear the Customs in Terminal 1. Crew will share CIQ facility with commercial flight passengers in the terminal. It will take about 45 minutes for the procedure.
After that, the crew transportation will take them to the city
Passengers will be greeted by their handler at No.5 Gate, International departure level, Terminal 1. They will assist everyone with their luggage and bags. Passengers will need to clear security and CIQ before boarding the shuttle on the ramp, which will take them to the aircraft for departure. Passengers will share CIQ and security facilities with commercial flight passengers in the terminal. It will take 30-45 minutes for the procedure.
Crew will be greeted by their handler at No.5 Gate, International departure level, Terminal 1. They will assist everyone with their luggage and bags. Crew will need to clear security and CIQ before boarding the shuttle on the ramp, which will take them to the aircraft for departure. Crew will share CIQ and security facilities with commercial flight passengers in the terminal.
In-flight catering and decatering
In-flight caterers are available at both airports and normal operating hours are 0830-2100 local. Operators have the option to source catering off-site, either from hotels or restaurants, and ground handlers will coordinate delivery of in-flight catering airside.
Your handler will, with a recommended 24-48 hours’ notice, assist in sourcing required catering from either inflight caterers or local hotels/restaurants. There are no issues with bringing catering from outside restaurants/hotels through airport security. Your handler can also assist with any onboard catering you wish to retain for the next flight leg. Both Shanghai airports have refrigeration facilities on-airport where leftover catering may be kept during the length of your stay.
Ground handlers can coordinate local transport. While there are no rental car companies at either airport, prepaid transportation (car with driver) can be arranged. It’s not recommended to use local taxis due to language issues. Note that plane-side pick-up/drop-off with private vehicles is not permitted at Shanghai, except in cases of air ambulance flights with prior arrangements.
For longer-term stays, or if parking should become an issue at either ZSSS or ZSPD, alternates to consider include Nanjing (ZSNJ) and Hangzhou (ZSHC). Airport slots and parking are relatively easy to obtain at these airports of entry (AOEs).
For international tech stops in Shanghai, full CIQ clearance may be required, with all passengers/crew potentially needing visas unless an exemption is requested at least 48 hours prior to landing. For exemption requests, CIQ reviews aircraft registration and all passenger/crew nationalities to make a determination if clearance and visas will be required or not. If your stop in Shanghai is under 24 hours, and CIQ approves your request, a visa-free stop/stay may be possible.
Shanghai is generally an easier location to operate to and park than other regional airports including Hong Kong (VHHH) and Beijing (ZBAA). Historically, most GA operators chose ZSSS due to its proximity to the city center.
Parking at both airports is in high demand and may require you to reposition to an alternate airport.
If you’re planning a mission to Shanghai, Universal Aviation China can help.