Traveling to the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix in Japan
This is a post by author Hiroshi Higashiyama. Hiroshi is representative director for Universal Aviation Japan, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Haneda, Narita, Sapporo, and Osaka. Hiroshi is an expert on business aircraft operations in Japan and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This year’s Formula One Japanese Grand Prix takes place October 6-8 at the Suzuka International Race Course. October 6 is for practice, October 7 is when qualifying runs take place and October 8 is race day. Built by the Honda Motor Company as a test facility in 1962 the 5.807km figure 8, Suzuka circuit is one of the most popular tracks in F1 racing today, with assorted designer curves that fully test car and driver ability.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
The best airport for general aviation (GA) purposes is Nagoya (RJGG), a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with full support services. Airport slots are required here and drive time from RJGG to the Suzuka Circuit is approximately one hour 20 minutes.
2. Alternate airports
Operators may consider Nagoya-Komaki (RJNA) but this is an AOE only upon request with three business days’ notice needed for customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) arrangements. GA clearance at RJNA is available all week 0830-2030 local with overtime possible on prior request. Another option is Kansai (RJBB), a 24-hour airport with 24-hour CIQ availability. Note that airport slots are needed for RJBB with slot deviation of +/- 30 minutes. Drive times between RJNA and RJBB and the race circuit are one hour 30 minutes and two hours 40 minutes respectively.
3. Airport slot requests
Slot requests should be forwarded via local ground handlers who will secure slots on behalf of the operator. Information needed for slot requests includes:
- Operator name
- Aircraft registration/flight number/call sign
- Aircraft type
- Origin airport
- ETA/ETD and destination
- Purpose of flight
Note that peak hours of scheduled commercial operation at all of the above airports are late morning for arrival and early evening for departure.
4. Parking and CIQ clearance
GA parking is limited at both RJBB and RJNA. However, RJGG has much better parking availability and rarely fills up.
RJNA has a GA terminal, so crew and passengers are escorted through that facility. Note that although at RJGG you need to go through the main terminal, VIP clearance can be arranged whereas crew and passengers go through the crew channel to avoid standing in line with commercial passengers. Last. RJBB usually makes fast track clearance available for passengers and a crew line for crew. Plan on 15-20 minutes from leaving the aircraft to clearing CIQ at the above airports.
5. Visa considerations
Passengers who require visas for Japan, based on their nationality, must obtain these in advance as visas are never issued upon arrival. Visas for crew are never needed, irrespective of nationality. A Crew Shore Pass will be issued at the point of first international arrival, so long as the crew holds crew ID, has a valid passport and is listed on the GenDec. Be mindful that shore passes have limitations on duration of stay and areas where you may travel within Japan. A single port shore pass is valid for up to eight days while a multi-port shore pass is valid for up to 16 days. If crew will be staying longer than this they’ll need to obtain visas prior to arrival in Japan.
6. Hotels and local transport
Hotel prices in the Suzuka and Nagoya areas will be higher than normal during the F1 period and arrangements for crew should be made as early as possible. Closest hotel to the race circuit is the Suzuka Circuit Hotel, a 3-star hotel that’s usually fully booked by race participants. We recommend sourcing crew accommodations in central Nagoya. Local transport for this event should be arranged well in advance and your ground handler can assist with these arrangements.
For operations to the 2107 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka plan parking and crew accommodations as early as possible. RJGG and RJBB are the most flexible airports in terms of slots and parking and both are open 24/7. RJNA is somewhat more restricted as you’ll need to confirm CIQ arrangements three days in advance and clearance hours here are limited.
If you have any questions or would like assistance planning your next trip to Japan, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.