While general aviation traffic is picking up in China these days, there are many other destinations for both business and pleasure within the vast continent of Asia.
Knowing what to expect before you go can make your travel plans much more efficient and enjoyable.
Airport Arrival and Departure Slots are Tight
While access to airports around China is improving, there are still parking issues and limitations on overnight and extended stays – especially at popular destinations.
For northern Asia the news is both good and bad for business jet travel. General aviation travelers will find obtaining slot approvals and parking space in and around Tokyo easier than in other areas. Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai on the other hand, still have significant issues.
According to International Support Providers (ISP) the most significant challenges for GA operations in Asia are securing overnight and long-term parking at certain destinations. Currently, only 1 or 2 requests out of every 50 applications for overnight parking are accepted at Hong Kong International (HKG).
At Singapore Changi (SIN) and Gimpo Intl Seoul South Korea (GMP) it’s becoming increasingly difficult to obtain parking for more than 2 days. Executive jets and general aviation operators also run into strict curfews and challenging slot requirements at PEK. These challenges will continue into the foreseeable future until airport infrastructures expand enough to accommodate the growing demand.
Rules and Regulations are Strict
When operating into China’s major destinations, landing permit approval is running about 3 business days. However, if you want to fly into a non-published domestic airport you’ll need at least a 7-day lead time.
Permits into Indonesia can also take 7 days, even up to 10 for destinations such as Myanmar. And the local CAA is unlikely to be very responsive.
While positive regulatory improvements are being made, such as China eliminating the sponsor letter once required to obtain a landing permit, new regulations are creeping in and creating new challenges. Be aware that permit revisions in this region are not always straight-forward. China for example only allows 2 revisions to an approved permit before you need to apply for a new one. In addition, some airways in China are restricted to locally registered aircraft and commercial airlines.
As of October 15, 2015, foreign registered aircraft operating in Indonesia, either private or charter, can only make one landing. On takeoff they must depart the country. Indonesia is a popular destination with 922 inhabited islands and 600 airports. Now, if you want to island hop, you’ll need to depart and reenter the country or travel with one of the local charter operators.
Increasingly Expensive Operations
To accommodate the increase in GA traffic and broad scale travel demands, HKG is looking at adding a 3rd runway and China is considering a second airport south of Beijing. However, these improvements will take many years before operational.
In the meantime operating costs in the region are on the rise. With limited space and increasingly high demand, costs to operate in the region are amongst the highest anywhere. According to Avfuel Account Mgr. David Kang, North Asia is a very expensive environment for business aviation. China may be a communist country but they are cashing-in on the basic law of supply and demand.
In general, the operating environment north of Hong Kong is the most expensive. Flying into SE Asia is generally less expensive.
If you want to fly into Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai with your Gulfstream or Global and stay for 2 nights, it’ll cost you about $10,000. The price for a quick-turn in Tokyo, $6000 to $7000. Navigation and overflight permits can easily run $4000 and each time you enter China you’ll pay a “compensation” fee of about $3000.
The work around for many GA flights is to drop and reposition to another airport, however, you still may not get the time slot you prefer.
Ground Operations and FBOs
GA service and support from ground handlers and FBOs throughout North and SE Asia is often excellent at major centers and generally very good even at smaller airports in China, Cambodia and Vietnam.
If you’re going to fly into Asia, it’s best to plan well in advance to avoid costly and inefficient entanglements. Overall, Asia is becoming more user-friendly for business and general aviation operators, however, rules are continually changing, and operations are expensive. Before you go you must be aware of permit lead times, restrictions, airport slots, parking availability and other unique regulatory requirements.
To learn more about GA operations in China, or how BSI can help you expand into Asia, give us a call. We have representatives in-country ready to help guide your expansion. We have also recently launched Z-Park Blue Sky General Aviation Alliance to help China expand and improve its GA operations and help GA companies worldwide expand into China.