Tips on Picking an Airport in Paris for a Business Aviation Flight
Paris Le Bourget (LFPB) is one of the most business aviation-friendly airports in Europe in terms of operating flexibility, available services, and maintenance support. There are, however, other airport options to consider when operating to Paris. A 3rd-party provider can help determine the best options for your particular mission.
1. Paris Airports
Paris has three airports, but two of them – Charles de Gaulle (LFPG) and Orly (LFPO) – are mostly dedicated to scheduled commercial operations. LFPG allows General Aviation (GA) operations for passengers with airline connections only, and aircraft may only stay on the ground for a few hours. LFPO is reserved almost exclusively for commercial traffic, except for diplomatic flight movements and passengers with airline connections, at which point the aircraft transporting them may only stay on the ground for a few hours.
LFPB accepts private non-revenue flights and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. LFPB is a user-friendly facility with plenty of aircraft parking and full support services available. LFPB and LFPG are located northeast of Paris, while LFPO is to the southeast. Driving time to central Paris from either airport can range from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
2. LFPB operating environment
LFPB does not have scheduled commercial operations, and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights are limited to 25 seats or less (unless permission is obtained in advance from the Civil Aviation Authority [CAA]). This capacity restriction does not apply to private (non-revenue) flights. LFPB is an easy and straightforward operating environment without the arrival, departure, ground taxi, and customs delays common at LFPG and LFPO.
3. Airport curfews
LFPB is open 24 hours for arrivals, but jet engine departures from apron are prohibited between 2215 and 0600 local. Permission for late departures is possible with prior approval for medical evacuation flights only. LFPG allows departures 0500-2359 local and arrivals 0530-2359 local. All departures 0001-0459 local and arrivals 0030-0529 local are specified to scheduled commercial operators (GA nighttime operations are not possible after midnight). LFPO is open 0600-2330 local, but only GA flights with commercial airline connections are permitted to land at LFPO, and Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed. All aircraft with a configuration of fewer than 25 seats require permission to operate into either LFPG or LFPO.
4. Noise restrictions?
Operations to Paris airports are generally restricted to Stage 3 operations and above.
5. Slots and PPRs
No PPRs or airport slots are required for LFPB. LFPG requires airport slots (deviation -5 minutes / +10 minutes) and a PPR (at least 24 hours’ notice is required to obtain this). The airport slot confirmation number must be included in field 18 of the flight plan. You must notify the ground handler, or the airline if you’re dropping off or picking up passengers with confirmed seats on commercial flights. LFPO requires airport slots (deviation -/+ 15 minutes) and a PPR (24 hours’ notice is required to obtain this). Restrictions at LFPO are similar to LFPG.
6. Charter permits
Non-European Union (EU) charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators, and EU charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators flying to/from non-EU countries require landing permits. If you’ve never operated a charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight to France, allow time to process your landing permit. If you are holding a TCA, CAA will likely have your documentation and completed questionnaire on file, thereby expediting the charter permit process.
7. Aircraft parking, extended stays, and maintenance availability
LFPB has plenty of parking, with the only exception being during the Paris Air Show (held biennially in odd-numbered years). Extended stays are not a problem at LFPB on ramp areas controlled by ground handlers. Notification is required for wide-body aircraft, and you’ll be parked in a different area. Aircraft hangar space is available at LFPB but limited during winter months. On-field aircraft maintenance support includes Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Raytheon, Embraer, and Gulfstream service. LFPG allows GA parking for only a few hours. Overnight stays may also be possible with prior arrangement. LFPO also restricts GA ops to a few hours on the ground, with no arrivals before 0930 and no departures 1900-2100 local. No hangar space or maintenance options are available for GA at either LFPG or LFPO. If you have maintenance issues at either LFPG or LFPO, it may take 72 hours to obtain ramp access for a mechanic. If the aircraft can operate, it’s best to reposition to LFPB.
8. Relocating aircraft
Notification is always provided before moving a large or wide-body aircraft. Smaller GA aircraft may, however, be relocated by the ground handler without prior notification, unless crew specifically asks to be notified.
Passengers and crew clear customs in the main terminal (with commercial passengers) at both LFPG and LFPO. You’ll have to arrange van transport to the terminal, and clearing customs could take 30-60 minutes. A VIP terminal is available for diplomatic flights at LFPO & LFPG. Clearance is an easier five to 10-minute procedure – within the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) 24 hours a day – at LFPB. There are no charges or fees associated with customs clearances at any Paris airport. Planeside (or on-aircraft) clearance is available, without prior notification, only at LFPB. If you have passengers connecting to a commercial flight – particularly at LFPG – it’s advisable to land at LFPB and arrange ground transport (10-15 minutes) to LFPG. This results in cost savings due to lower landing and handling fees at LFPB. Also, it is quicker as a result of the time savings that crew, passengers, and luggage have clearing customs.
10. Arrival documentation
When arriving from a non-Schengen country, have all standard documentation (airworthiness certificate, registration, insurance, noise certificate, copies of crew licenses and medicals, Safety Management System [SMS] Program, and general declarations) available in case of a ramp check. Ramp checks are occurring more frequently and are mostly focused on charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators flying international sectors.
11. Quarantine and agricultural requirements
Certain prohibited items (and foods) may not be offloaded from the aircraft while in France. Dogs and cats (except racing dogs) may be brought into France if they are at least three months old and fitted with permanent identification and have valid health/rabies certificates. Catering may be left onboard in Paris, and any refrigerated items may be stored at your FBO /ground handler.
12. Local transportation
Pre-paid transportation with a driver is recommended, but rental cars are available at all three airports if requested. Due to heavy traffic in the Paris area, many people are not comfortable with rental car options, but this service is not possible at LFPG or LFPO.
13. In-flight catering availability
In-flight caterers are available at all Paris airports and can provide menus upon request. Catering is usually delivered directly to the aircraft, and in-flight caterers have ramp access approval. If the crew is bringing catering from restaurants, this must go through security screening (with associated “liquids” restrictions).
14. Short notice vs. advanced arrangements
While many services like in-flight catering, jet fuel, and transportation can be arranged on short notice, it’s always best to inform your ground handler of your requirements in advance to avoid potential issues.
15. Airport security
All three Paris airports are secure facilities, with police patrols and surveillance on ramp areas.
While it’s rare for business aviation operators to utilize LFPG – and even less common to operate into LFPO – there may be times you’ll want to consider these options (particularly if operating a diplomatic flight). A 3rd-party provider can help review in advance the limitations of these scheduled commercial-focused Paris airport options.
The customs process into Paris is straightforward for private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) aircraft operators. Documentation requirements are not onerous, and business aircraft operators can look forward to a full range of support facilities and services at Le Bourget (LFPB) once the customs process is completed. The other airports in Paris – Orly (LFPO) and Charles de Gaulle (LFPG) – don’t cater to business aviation flights.
Operations to all of the airports in Paris are straightforward from a flight-planning perspective, but one must consider the documentation needed, airport procedures, and services available at each location. For this reason, a 3rd-party provider may assist you in reviewing requirements and arranging services required for your trip.