An airport slot is a permission to operate at a coordinated airport on a specific date and at a specific time as allocated by a co-ordinator. Aircraft operators must not intentionally operate or plan to operate at a time wish is different from the allocated slot time on the initial flight plan should match the allocated slot time.

falcona-manchester-airport

Private jet arriving at the private terminal at Manchester Airport.

Operators must adhere to the airport slot time. Obtaining push back clearance from ATC does not override the airport slot time allocated. Airport slot times are the on/off block times, not the landing or take off times.

SLOT CLEARANCES

All aircraft operators must have a slot allocated by the coordinator before operating at a coordinated airport, unless emergency landings. Slot requests should be made in good time before the planned operation. . On the day and out of hours slot requests should be kept to a minimum. Departure slots should be secured at least 30 minutes  prior to operation. Arrival slots must be secured prior to the aircraft departing from its point of origin.

Slots – officially known as PRP procedures (Prior Permission Required) – are the specific time windows that an aircraft is given to land or depart from an airport. These are arranged in advance of the flight date and aircraft must keep to their pre-booked slots, or risk being unable to use the runway again for some time again.

A slot system is brought in to control the number of aircraft in the air, and around the runway at an airport. Slots are applied at airports where there is high demand for use of the runway, whether that’s all year-round, or in some cases, for windows of specific high demand – such as seasonal peaks or major events.

Many slot-controlled airports are those which are shared by airlines and private jets and airlines given slot priority. This can mean that private jet users are unable to define their required flight times; must book further in advance than usual; cannot deviate from their schedule; or – in a small number of cases – need to use a different airport altogether.

For the UEFA Europa League Final, Falcona clients had to fly to Vasteras Airport an hours drive from Stockholm, due to Stockholm Arland and Bromma Airport not taking any more general aviation flights and prioritising commercial flights for the game. This was unfortunate for our clients, however it goes to show that you need to book in advance. Other aircraft that flew from Manchester were able to secure a slot at Stockholm Bromma as they had booked soon as Manchester United made it into the final.

 

SKI SEASON  

The Civil Aviation Authority can at times administer landing slots at popular airports, a slot is like a reservation for your private jet to land. Be advised that landing slots are common in ski countries, such as Chamonix, Chambery, St Gallen and Sion during the winter and at other busy times such as February half term.

Get closer to the slopes, during the winter season

Get closer to the slopes, during the winter season. Image: M Geiger

Like any other reservation, slots are subject to availability and are issued on a first come first served basis. For example if your desired landing or departure time has already been filled you may have to find another time; you need to be flexible when planning your trip.

The added benefit of using a private jet to reach your destination is that it can land at airports closer to your resort cutting down your total journey time. A helicopter flight will be able to whisk you over to your resort.

SPORTS EVENTS 

UEFA Champions League at Wembley Stadium.

UEFA Champions League at Wembley Stadium.

 

The biggest global events that impact slots for private jet traffic are the Super Bowl in the US and the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix in Europe. The Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix – which both take place on the Cote d’Azur at the end of May – always generates a high volume of traffic at Nice and Cannes Mandelieu Airports during the period.

Falcona had a flight for clients flying from Manchester to Cannes for the Monaco Grand Prix. They were due to fly out on the Thursday at 12.30 local time, however due to ATC they didn’t leave until 13.10 local time due to the congestion around Cannes and Nice Airport. Our clients were fine with this and waited in the lounge with drinks and snacks on offer to pass the time.

Other events which can create slot challenges for private jets and helicopter charter flights are the British Grand Prix (Cranfield Airport); the Champions League Final (playing at The Millenium Stadium in  Cardiff in 2017)

So our advice if you’re flying to a major sport event by private jet or helicopter? Make your plans ahead of time; book your private jet or helicopter charter as soon as you have confirmed your attendance; and try to avoid changing your plans later, or you might lose your slot!

SUMMER SEASON

The combination of a popular summer hotspot and an island location can add up to a slot problem for private jet users. Ibiza, Malaga, Mallorca, Olbia and Mykonos are some of the biggest examples of this in Europe’s summer peak.

IBIZA 31247710 - ibiza island night view

The summer season sees a huge spike in flights to destinations such as Ibiza, Malaga, Mallorca and Mykonos with clients needing to book at least two weeks in advance in order to secure their desired slot. In some instances aircraft are only able to stay for up to 30 minutes, therefore just dropping of passengers then they have to repositioning out to another airport nearby with ample parking space. This can add to the cost of the charter flight, which is explained to the client prior to booking.

Our advice for clients flying into these airports is to book as far in advance as possible. And try to ensure that you don’t deviate from the agreed schedule. While at many private jet airports you can change your itinerary at the last minute, in the summer at the most popular destinations, you may struggle to find an alternative slot if you don’t arrive on time.

So our advice if you’re flying to a major event by private jet? Make your plans ahead of time; book your private jet or helicopter charter as soon as you have confirmed your attendance; and try to avoid changing your plans later, or you might lose your slot!

 

 

 

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