5 April 2023Blog
There are many reasons why you decide to fly with a private jet, but the main one is surely the benefit of absolute freedom and flexibility. While commercial flying doesn’t always match your schedules, private jet flying is tailor-made to your own needs and plans.
However, there are rules and guidelines to follow even when it comes to private aviation, as airports can be busy and air traffic can influence your plans. Knowing the rules of airport slots becomes essential when you schedule flights for major events or top vacation spots that attract a high volume of tourists travelling by plane. During such times, busy airports and destinations require to reserve a so-called AIRPORT SLOT— an authorization to take off or land at a specific airport at a certain time and day. Let’s have a look into how slot scheduling works:
Slots are specific time windows, usually 20 minutes, during which an aircraft can land or take off from an airport.
These slots are assigned by Air traffic control and the aircraft may only move within this period. If the aircraft does not land or depart within the given slot, there is a risk that it may not move for a certain period of time as the airport must then confirm a new slot.
Slots are usually put in place to regulate traffic and decrease delays at busy airports and destinations. Airports that use a slot-controlled system are often shared by private jets and airlines, and the priority is always given to airlines—this is why it is important to book in advance.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) places airports into three categories depending on capacity and demand:
Level 1 (non-coordinated airport). These airports have full capacity to meet the required demand and are considered non-coordinated airports.
Level 2 (slot facilitated airport). These airports are at risk of congestion during certain travel peaks. A facilitator is appointed to facilitate the planned operations. Flight schedule notification is required and the facilitator may offer alternative operating times to avoid exceeding the parameters. Slot procedures may apply for Business Aviation operators.
Level 3 (coordinated airport). Busy airports require slot coordination to operate because their demand is higher than their capacity.
Europe counts 180 coordinated (Level 3) and schedule-facilitated (Level 2) airports. Certain airports see seasonal variations due to summer and winter destination trends.
The summer season is significantly busier with over 100 coordinated airports; popular airports on the Mediterranean islands (e.g. Ibiza, Menorca, Olbia, Palma, Mykonos, Santorini) require slot coordination throughout peak season. During the winter period, as passengers head to trendy snow destinations, some airports move from a level 2 to a level 3 status due to demand.
Geneva airport, for example, is one of the busiest airports in Europe for private jets. While this airport is busy all-year-round, it definitely hits its peak period during the winter ski season where slots are difficult to obtain. Below an example of slot allocation in Geneva (GVA). Private jet brokers can check live which slots are available for take-off and landings in real-time.
As an alternative and to avoid slot issues , Cielo Aviation recommends diverting to another nearby airport such as Sion, Annecy, and Chambery—they provide perfect flexibility and are close to famous ski resorts such as Verbier, Zermatt or Courchevel.
Our advice to clients wishing to fly to popular destinations during peak time is to really book in advance as much as possible.
Apart from popular summer island hotspots and winter ski destinations, also certain major events like the Super Bowl, the Venice or Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix can add a high volume of air traffic to the destination. In some cases, this means slot procedures are imposed at these airports that are usually slot-free.
Some major events spark even stricter restrictions like no-fly zones around the venue, aircraft parking restrictions, curfews, and other regulations that are usually not in place. These restrictions can be implemented in the area three to five days prior to the event.
We recommend planning ahead of time for those events, booking your private jet and trying to not change plans unless you really have to.
A charter broker can apply for slots and help you book exactly what you need. The procedure of slot coordination is slightly complex and rigorous, which is why it is better to rely on someone who does that constantly and is used to its technicalities.
When you fly with Cielo Aviation, you’ll have the benefit of our in-house, 24/7 Flight Support arranging every detail of your journey—including placing and reviewing any slots or reservations your trip requires.
Contact us on +39 02 87 157 524, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply use our online booking form, we will get back to you as soon as possible:
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