St. Petersburg, Russia International Economic Forum – Business Aviation Trip Planning Tips
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) runs June 20-22 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The forum provides a unique platform for global leaders to engage with their peers in finding solutions to the most pressing global issues. This will be a particularly busy period for St. Petersburg – in terms of business aircraft movements and demand for local services – so it’s important to begin working with your 3rd-party provider and ground handler without delay. If you are planning to operate to the Russian city during this time, here’s an overview of what you should know:
1. ULLI is the host airport
St Petersburg (ULLI) is a 24-hour Airport of Entry (AOE), and airport slots are required for all operations. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is not needed for ULLI. Airport slots are processed by airport authorities – with +/- 5-minute deviation – and should be requested as soon as schedule is known. General Aviation (GA) flights – both international and domestic – are handled at Pulkovo-3 terminal, and passengers do not need to merge, or clear, along with commercial airline passengers. GA parking needs to be requested as early as possible for the Forum period. Note that this airfield is often congested with scheduled commercial traffic.
2. ULLI will restrict airport access during this period
Only GA flights with passengers participating in SPIEF will be permitted to arrive at ULLI during the Forum period. To obtain an airport slot, you’ll need to send a passenger list – with passenger status and name of the company each passenger represents. Note that if your passengers are not confirmed, Forum participants’ airport slot requests may be refused. Once you have a confirmed slot, it is recommended to avoid changes to the schedule. Revising a confirmed airport slot will be particularly challenging over the Forum period due to heavy traffic this airport is expecting to receive.
3. Know security considerations
For the SPIEF event, ULLI is requiring Russian Federal Security Agency approval prior to airport slots being issued. Passenger status, and purpose of flight, must be provided to your ground handler, so that he or she may begin the process of obtaining security approval for your operation. ULLI has strict federal and state security in place, and this airfield is a very secure area. Note that all airfield security services are strictly controlled by the airport authority. No other entities, other than the airport authority, are permitted to provide airside or aircraft security.
4. Be aware of permit considerations
Landing permits are needed for all operations to Russia. For aircraft with fewer than 19 passenger seats, the minimum permit application time has now been reduced to just one business day for up to four non-scheduled flights per month. For more information on the permit requirements, please see our article titled "Coming Soon: Russia Landing Permit Changes – Effective May 30, 2013." Short-notice permit requests may be possible – depending on airport slot availability and security agency approval. Required documentation, when requesting permits, includes registration and airworthiness certificates, insurance and copies of crew licenses.
5. Sponsor letters are needed
If you’re staying in Russia, you’ll need to obtain a sponsor letter from a local business contact or from your hotel. As this letter is required to obtain a visa for Russia, it’s best to start working on this without delay.
6. Consider alternates if aircraft parking at ULLI is not available
If aircraft parking is not available at ULLI, you’ll need to drop passengers and reposition to another airport. Alternates to consider include Helsinki (EFHK), Tallinn (EETN), Riga (EVRA) and Moscow-area airports. These airports are all 24-hour AOEs, with the exception of nightly closures at EVRA in the summer between 0001-0600 local all week for runway work. If you plan to reposition outside of Russia, crew members will require multi-entry Russian visas. It’s impossible to arrange a visa on arrival at ULLI. You’ll face fines, deportation or even being banned from Russia for five years if you land without an appropriate visa. Best policy is to contact your 3rd-party provider, or visa service provider, as soon as the schedule is known. Be aware of additional permit considerations that may be associated with your chosen alternate. EFHK, for example, requires permits for all charter operations, so it’s best to communicate with your 3rd-party provider.
7. Hotel and ground transport options will be limited
Hotel and ground transport considerations are definitely high priority during the Forum period. SPIEF is a very large event, and most preferred hotels will be sold out at this point. Prices will be much higher than usual, cancellation policies will likely be extended, and non-refundable deposits may be required. While in ULLI, it’s recommended to use secure ground transportation (car with driver) – particularly considering congestion and road closures in the city. Use of public transportation is only recommended if you’re familiar with the area.
8. Aircraft services considerations
In-flight catering requests should be made at least 48 hours in advance. Note that if you do not use the designated caterer – Ginza Sky – your ground handler will not be able to assist in catering arrangements. For fuel uplift, it’s best to provide 24 hours’ advance notification and to consider fueling on arrival. While the ground handler at ULLI has a selection of towbars available, it’s always best to have your own towbar available in order to avoid delays.
When traveling to ULLI over the SPIEF period, stay abreast of airport restrictions and be mindful of short-notice NOTAMS that may be issued during congested periods. Do not attempt to revise confirmed slots – unless it’s an emergency. Crew should be at ULLI no less than two hours prior to departure. If there’s any chance that you may be doing a ULLI drop-and-go, best practice is to secure multi-entry Russian visas, in advance, for crew members.
If you have any questions about this article or need assistance in planning a trip to Russia, contact me at email@example.com.