There are many things to consider when planning flights. As well as the flight planning and operations, many areas of logistics need to be looked at. Staffing, catering and services, choice of FBO and facilities, and onward flight and travel logistics all need to be considered.
Parking is part of these logistics. There are many locations in Europe where this can be very difficult, especially for longer periods of time. Planning early is important, as is the consideration of alternative options.
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Requesting airport parking
Parking should be treated as a part of flight planning. It obviously forms an important part of overall logistics, and plans need to be in place for any aircraft that will remain on the ground. This is particularly the case at certain airports – including those with limited space, expected very busy periods of operation, or other restrictions.
Well in advance of the flight, the requirements for parking, hangar space, or other storage should be investigated. At some airports, landing permits or slots convey some level of permission to park. At other locations, operators will need to make a request – known as prior permission required (PPR) – separately from obtaining slot or landing permissions. Parking for a few hours will usually be permitted, but anything longer should be checked and requested.
Busy airports in Europe
There are several locations in Europe when aircraft parking is a notorious challenge. This is frequently the case at airports popular with tourists in the summer months, and during particular key events.
Some of the most congested examples include:
- Nice (LFMN) during the summer. There is good availability of parking at the airport, but it can fill up at certain times. The Cannes film festival and the Monaco Grand Prix are notable for this, and parking at these times should be requested well in advance. Several alternatives can be used – including Marseille and Avignon. Note that these airports both require at least 24 hours advance PPR notice for non-Schengen originating flights.
- Italian Riviera airports are also popular locations in the summer months. Most airports, including Venice, Verona, Olbia, and Florence will fill quickly and all require advance booking through PPR.
- Airports serving the Greek Islands. These are similarly very popular during the summer. Slots and PPR are now required at most island airports (there have been major changes since 2021 with increasing traffic levels). These airports incude Araxos (LGRX), Mykonos (LGMK), Chania (LGSA), N. Anchialos (LGBL), Chios (JKH/LGHI), Paros (LGPA), Heraklion (LGIR), Rhodes (LGRP), Kalamata (LGKL), Santorini (LGSR), Karpathos (LGKP), Sitia (LGST), Kefallinia (LGKF), Zakynthos (LGZA), Kerkyra (LGKR), Kos (LGKO), and Kythira (LGKC).
- Turkish airports. Several of the most popular airports in Turkey now heavily restrict parking (often with no long-term parking permitted at all in the summer months). This includes Istanbul airports (LTFM and LTFJ), Milas-Bodrum (LTFE), Dalaman (LTBS), Izmir(LTBJ), and Antalya (LTAI).
- Zurich (and other Swiss airports) at the time of the Davos World Economic Forum. This is usually held in January and at this time, parking at Zurich is linked with airport slot allocation. Other popular locations, such as Friedrichshafen also fill quickly, and will likely require PPR.
Planning ahead is the best strategy
The best way to manage the parking situation is to plan ahead. To do this correctly and efficiently, you need to be aware of the specific requirements for each airport – including slot permission and allocation, and PPR requirements. In many locations, requests can only be submitted within a certain time interval (and prompt action based on this is needed in popular locations).
Even if your plans are not entirely fixed, enquiring early and making a booking could be sensible. At some airports, changes to parking requests are simple (and your space will be protected). At other locations, changing a booking will mean a new booking has to made based on current availability (much like changing a hotel reservation).
Finding alternatives for problem airports
The most obvious alternative if parking is not available, or the cost is prohibitive, is to switch to a different airport. This could be for the flight arrival and departure, or as a drop off and reposition of the aircraft for parking. This will, of course, have further impacts on fuelling, operating costs, and staff duty time and logistics.
Most of the problem airports in Europe have nearby alternatives – which could be used for arrival then ground transportation, or for aircraft repositioning for longer term parking. Commonly used airport alternatives include:
- In France, several smaller airports including Ajaccio, Figari, and Calvi are often used. Marseille and Avignon often serve as alternatives for Nice.
- In Italy, alernatives include the larger airports in Milan and Rome (although these can be busy as well). Rome can also be challenging, with limitations in place during the peak season for general aviation aircraft movements.
- In Greece the mainland airports at Athens or Thessaloniki can be used. With the boom in private aviation post-COVID even these alternatives are seeing increased demand. Athens, for example, introduced PPR requirements from Summer 2021 (for parking longer than three hours).
- Other nearby locations that are often used include airports in Switzerland, Croatia, and Malta.
- In Turkey, if restrictions are in place at the busier airports, alternatives with less restricted parking include Zafar (LTBZ), Yenişehir (LTBR) , Denizli Çardak (LTAY), Isparta Süleyman Demirel (LTFC) and Uşak (LTBO).
Thorough investigation, and early planning, are important for trouble-free aircraft parking. As long as operators are aware of the challenges, there are options to deal with problems, and alternatives. There is often a need for last minute changes or re-planning too, as many locations will only confirm parking availability close to the time. Working with planning experts who know the airport and regional specifics can be of great assistance here.
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