How to plan a business jet mission to the World Economic Forum at Davos
Since 1971, the World Economic Forum has held its annual meeting, attended by the world’s most powerful and influential business leaders and heads of state, in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. This high-profile and high-traffic event draws significant business aviation traffic, creating congestion and service limitations, requiring pre-planning well in advance of the event. This year’s meeting is Jan. 21-25, 2020. Below is everything you need to know about attending the event.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airport
Zurich (LSZH) is the airport of choice for most GA operators to Davos, and it’s about a 90-minute drive to the Forum venue. LSZH is an airport of entry (AOE) that operates 0600-2200 local with fixed base operators (FBOs) and full GA support services. Airport slots are needed and should be applied for as soon as the schedule is known. Note that you might not obtain slot times you request during this busy period or at times of peak congestion. LSZH does have any prior permission required (PPR) mandates. Note that you need to land before the airport closing time, or you’ll be diverted to another airport.
2. Parking availability
Parking at LSZH fills up each year during the Forum period. In general, we recommend making parking requests a year before to ensure the best chance of success. However, the length of the parking stay is not usually an issue once confirmed. If you’re able to obtain parking for the event, you’ll typically be able to stay for the duration. While you do not need to be a registered Forum attendee to park at this location, it’s always best to provide this information when submitting parking requests. Due to tight parking availability over this period, it’s recommended that operators avoid coming to Zurich for any other business purposes during this time.
3. Drop and gos
Drop and goes at LSZH are normally permitted during the Davos period, and you’ll usually be given up to 2-3 hours on the ground.
4. CIQ procedures
For LSZH, a maximum of 24 passengers are permitted for handling and customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance at the FBO. If you have more than 24 passengers, inbound or outbound, you’ll need to clear CIQ within the main terminal along with scheduled commercial passengers. Passenger and crew manifests are not needed when clearing at the FBO. However, visas for Switzerland are required for certain nationalities and may not be obtained upon arrival. While immigration clears all flights to/from non-Schengen countries, customs clearance is only required for passengers with anything to declare. CIQ clearance onboard aircraft is never an option at LSZH, and private vehicles are not permitted on the ramp to drop off/pick up passengers.
5. Parking alternates
If you’re not able to obtain parking at LSZH, alternates to consider include Dubendorf (LSMD), Friedrichshafen (EDNY) and Basel (LFSB). LSMD is located in central Zurich while EDNY is about a 90-minute drive to the Davos venue. LFSB, on the other hand, would be an option for the crew to park after dropping passengers at LSZH. Note that parking for larger aircraft – such as G650, ACJ or BBJ – is limited at LSZH. Larger equipment operators may need to reposition to LFSB, Geneva (LSGG) or elsewhere.
LSMD is a military airfield that only converts to civilian use as an AOE during the Davos period. It’s conveniently located close to downtown Zurich. Airport hours are Monday-Friday 0700-2100 local and weekends 0900-2100 local with no airport overtime available. Ample parking is available here together with full GA support services, fuel and credit. Airport slots are not needed here but PPR is. Note that timed PPRs are provided, so it’s essential to advise airport authorities of any schedule changes. Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance is within the military terminal building.
- Flights between LSZH and LSMD are not permitted
- Head of States with official flights are forbidden in LSMD
EDNY is a good choice of alternate for Davos and popular among GA operators. Drive time to the Davos venue is about the same as it is from LSZH. An AOE, EDNY operates Monday-Friday 0600-2200 local and weekends 0900-2000 local with airport overtime available upon request. There are no slot or PPR requirements at this location. Full GA support services, fuel, and credit are available, and parking is seldom an issue during Davos week. As this location is in Germany, be aware that fuel taxes will be higher on any uplifts.
8. Short-notice operations
If you’re trying to put together a short-notice or last-minute trip to Davos, it’s certainly doable although you’ll need to be more flexible. Drop and goes at LSZH are normally possible and you’ll be able to find a parking alternate. In some cases, if you’re operating a smaller business jet, you may be able to obtain last-minute parking at LSZH, so it’s worth making the request. Popular hotels will likely have sold out but there will be good 4-star crew accommodation options to consider.
9. Permit requirements
Landing permits are not needed for private non-revenue GA operations to Switzerland. However, charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators not registered in the EU do require landing permits. Permit documentation includes airworthiness and registration certificates, worldwide insurance, noise certificate, and aircraft operator certificate (AOC).
10. Operating flexibility
Once you have airport slots, parking, and crew accommodations confirmed it’s best to try to stick with your schedule. Any changes, including arriving early or late or needing to extend parking, could impact any authorizations you’ve already obtained.
11. Crew accommodations
The Forum is a busy time when it comes to hotel availability in Zurich and Davos. Many top hotels sell out, prices are higher, cancellation policies are stricter, and hotel reward program over rides are not available. In some cases, hotel accommodations may be non-refundable or you may need to prepay. Plan on paying 200-300 USD/night for 4-star crew accommodations in the Zurich area.
12. Support services
Full general aviation (GA) support services and credit are available at both Zurich (LSZH) and Friedrichshafen (EDNY). LSZH has a fixed-base operator (FBO) and a VIP lounge available. Due to increased traffic over the WEF period, FBO services may be slower than normal.
13. Local transport
We recommend arranging pre-paid (car with driver) transport during the Forum period. But, it’s important to book this early for the best choice and availability. If you depend on local taxis, you may end up waiting 45 min or so. Be mindful that the drive to Davos is through the mountains in winter conditions. Normal 90 minute drive times from Zurich or Friedrichshafen could take much longer, depending upon the weather.
14. Fuel uplifts and ground support equipment
We recommend carrying fuel releases for uplifts, although major aviation cards are usually accepted. Credit options are available at all airports, but fuel taxes vary between Switzerland and Germany, with taxes higher in Germany. As local airports will be congested during the Davos Forum, it may be best to uplift fuel the day before departure to avoid day of departure delays. In Switzerland, if you fill up tax-free as a charter operation, be mindful that taxes will become due and payable if you do not leave the country within 24 hours.
LSZH fuel uplifts, by regulation, must be done on the day of departure. Uplift delays may be experienced, particularly on the last day of the event. Be aware that fuel costs are usually higher at EDNY, due to higher value added taxes (VAT) and mineral oil taxes (MOT).
Although ground support equipment (GSE) and tow bars are normally available at both LSZH and EDNY we recommend carrying tow bars due to higher than normal demand during the WEF period.
15. Catering considerations
In-flight catering is available at all of the above airports. A minimum of 24 hours’ notice is recommended for standard/basic order with at least 48 hour suggested for custom orders. We recommend sending in catering orders as far in advance as possible
16. Onboard pets and weapons
If you’re traveling to any of the above airfields with a pet or guns on board, it’s essential to review all applicable regulations and restrictions. Your trip support provider or local ground handler will be able to advise on required documentation or restriction applicable to such operations.
17. Hotels and local transport
Hotels in Zurich and Davos will be in very high demand over this period, with higher costs and extended cancellation policies. Be aware that many hotels will have reward program options blocked out during this period. There may be crew accommodation availability to consider at EDNY as the hotel situation there is not as tight as Davos or Zurich. For local transport in the Davos area, and between LSZH or EDNY and Davos, requests should be made as soon as the schedule is known.
Helicopter transfers will be in operation between LSZH/EDNY and Davos and, if required, should be booked months in advance. To set up heli transport, be sure to provide passenger count, luggage, and schedule and be mindful that these services are weather dependent.
18. Consider utilizing a dedicated on/off-airport concierge agent
When attending an event like Davos, having a dedicated resource to oversee everything on-airport is always a smart move. In some cases, ground handlers can support some off-airport requests, but with local ground handlers all preoccupied with so many movements, it is likely depending on your schedule and your location, you’ll need an additional extra layer of oversight and support on the ground. To serve as an on-the-ground extension of our trip support services teams, Universal has a dedicated Air2Ground Concierge agent stationed in the region. Our agent will follow up on all on-airport services, and can help with off-airport arrangements, like hotels, local tours, and event tickets. For more information on Air2Ground Concierge agents, click here.
We expect that operations to these airports during the Davos period will be relatively smooth, even for operators dealing with short-notice schedules. Begin the planning process as soon as you know your schedule, be flexible with available slot times, and ensure that when needed, permits are obtained.
When traveling to LSZH, CIQ is normally completed within the FBO, unless you have more than 24 passengers. Be aware of visa requirements when needed, as they must be obtained in advance. For fuel uplifts, by law, must be done on the day of departure. During this event, there could be delays, so it’s best to allow additional time to complete this. Also, as hotels and transportation will be in high demand, it’s recommended that these services be booked far in advance of the event.