Which Airport to Pick in Shanghai for Business Aircraft Operations

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Which Airport to Pick in Shanghai for Business Aircraft Operations

Which Airport to Pick in Shanghai for Business Aircraft Operations

This is a post by author Emily Zhao. Emily is based at Universal Aviation China, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Emily is an expert on business aircraft operations in China and can be contacted at emilyzhao@universalaviation.aero.

Shanghai offers two excellent airports that seldom have issues with aircraft parking. It’s important, however, to be aware of General Aviation (GA) operating restrictions at Shanghai-area airports. There are limitations in terms of how many movements you may make per day and late-night aircraft service availability.

Below are items to consider when planning your trips:

1. Know airport options in Shanghai

There are two 24-hour airports available to GA: Hongqiao (ZSSS) and Pudong (ZSPD). Both can be highly congested during peak hours and have similar restrictions. GA aircraft are limited to just one movement per day during the 0800-2200 local period. This means that neither airport can be used as a tech stop. GA operations are not recommended between 2359-0700 local, as services may be somewhat limited, and delays are possible. ZSSS has a full-service Fixed-Base Operator (FBO), with crew lounges, a business center and passenger lounges. ZSPD is primarily geared toward scheduled commercial airlines. ZSSS is north of the city, about a 25-minute drive to the city center, while ZSPD is located to the east of Shanghai and about a one-hour drive into the city center.

2. Be aware of airport restrictions

There are no Stage 2 noise restrictions currently in place for either Shanghai airport. Be aware, however, that GA restrictions are in place for arrivals/departures between the northeast or east and ZSSS. So, if you plan to arrive or depart Shanghai from or toward Japan; Anchorage, Alaska; or the U.S. west coast, you’ll need to use ZSPD.

3. Consider aircraft parking issues

ZSSS has no issues with aircraft parking, and all GA parking spots are self-taxi stands located near the FBO. All services are available in the parking area, and there’s no need to reposition aircraft in order to obtain fuel or services. 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 crew must be present if relocation of an aircraft is necessary. Ground support equipment (GSE) and tow bars are available at both airports. There are seldom issues with extended parking at either airport, and GA aircraft are never parked in the commercial aircraft area. Both airports have hangar availability for transient aircraft, but your ground handler will need at least 24 hours’ notice to make hangar arrangements.

4. Know CIQ/documentation requirements

ZSSS CIQ takes about 10 minutes, and passengers/crew clear in the FBO. Your ground handler will assist with luggage and escort passengers/crew to pre-arranged transportation. At ZSPD, passengers/crew clear in the main terminal at a special GA lounge, and this can take up to 25 minutes. Your ground handler will assist with giving passports/visas to CIQ and with bringing luggage for clearance. Crew should have a "C" visa, along with a valid passport, but may also be able to use a business visa in the case of Shanghai. Passengers need to have a visa other than a "C" visa, along with a valid passport. Passengers transiting Shanghai and staying on the ground for no more than 72 hours do not require visas at either ZSSS or ZSPD. You must, however, be in transit and not returning to the point of origin in order to receive a 72-hour visa on arrival. For example, Narita (RJAA)-ZSSS-RJAA is not permitted, but RJAA-ZSSS-Delhi (VIDP) is possible on a 72-hour visa issued on arrival.

For more on visas in China, read our previous post: 10 Must-Knows About Airport Operations and Customs When Flying into China.

5. Know airport slot considerations

When you receive a landing permit for Shanghai, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will also issue arrival/departure slots. No airport slot number is provided – just the permit number. Slot deviation for either airport is +/- 15 minutes.

6. Be aware of other CIQ requirements

In advance of arrival/departure, a general declaration is required, and arrival/departure cards must be filled out by crew and passengers. Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) may or may not require these arrival/departure cards, but it’s best to have your ground handler complete these in advance, just in case. CIQ at both Shanghai airports will clear passengers/crew onboard the aircraft if arrangements have been made in advance. Passengers may be subject to penalty, at the discretion of CIQ, if they overstay the 72-hour visa-free period. There are fees for CIQ clearance, and your ground handler will normally pay this on the operator’s behalf and re-bill it later. Be aware of agricultural restrictions when traveling to China. Specific agricultural items and leftover catering will not be permitted into the country. It’s always best to check on this, in advance, with your ground handler.

7. Know that full 4th-party services are available at both Shanghai airports

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. Ground handlers will also 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 arrangement.

8. Consider airport operational restrictions and advantages

ZSSS is located close to the city, and you will not have the ground traffic to deal with that operators face at ZSPD. For late-night arrivals, it’s always recommended to use ZSSS, as services can be arranged at the FBO. The FBO offers items such as executive lounges, private meeting rooms, computers with Internet access, photocopiers and showers, to name a few.

9. Additional Reading

We’ve covered business aviation operations into China in depth on this blog. You can read through all these articles here to help you further in your planning. As always, confirm with your 3rd-party provider to ensure you are working off the latest information.


If you’re heading to central Shanghai, it’s usually best to use ZSSS rather than ZSPD, as you’ll be closer to the city and have the benefit of an FBO. ZSPD is, however, the only option if your next leg is an international sector to the east or northeast.


If you have any questions about this article, contact me at emilyzhao@universalaviation.aero.

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