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Flight Organization

10 tips for the winter charter season

How to avoid the pitfalls of organising a flight in winter? We prepared 10 of the most important tips on the eve of the upcoming winter charter season for those who book private flights and do not want to encounter unforeseen difficulties. Complexities that lie in wait for customers of business charters during the winter period are primarily due to the high load of flights that are popular in this season (ski resorts and distant exotic countries), as well as the seasonal and climatic peculiarities that impose certain restrictions on the operation of the air transport system.

1. Plan your trip and book an aircraft in advance. The sooner you start organising your trip and searching for a business jet, the more choices you will have. Closer to public holidays, you can find fewer and fewer suitable options on the market so you will have to take what is left. If you are lucky, of course. In addition, the cost of the available aircraft will be growing by the day.

2. In case of a breakdown, make provisions for a spare aircraft in advance for the same price as the main one. In winter, there are more aircraft breakdowns. We recommend that you discuss with your broker in advance the question of replacing the aircraft in case of its failure without increasing the cost.

3. It is necessary that passengers arrive at the airport at least 40 minutes before departure so as not to lose the slot. Due to a high workload and busy schedule at airports in the high winter season, the risk of losing a slot (time interval allocated for an aircraft's take-off and landing), even due to a slight delay, is much higher than usual. Even if you take off in spite of the delay, you will hardly be able to land at the destination airport. The landing slot will be also lost so the dispatcher will, most likely, send your aircraft to a spare airfield. And this entails additional costs. When it comes to long flights to exotic countries, for example, to the Maldives, the passengers' lateness can lead to even more unpleasant consequences. A flight to the Maldives lasts 9 hours, and the crew's working shift is, on average, also 9 hours. If the passengers are at least an hour late, they will disrupt the pilots' work schedule, and the flight will be transferred to another day. Or they will have to urgently look for an additional crew.

4. Arrive and depart during daylight hours. Small airports in resort cities stop their operations after dark. In winter, it gets dark quicker. Also, in mountainous areas, the risk of bad weather is higher in early morning and after dark. Therefore, most of the small airports located along the route of popular ski resorts do not accept aircraft after dark. If you are late with departure, there is a high risk that you will not be able to land at the destination airport and will be sent to an alternate airfield. And this entails additional costs.

5. Helicopter transportation at ski resorts: organise flights during daylight hours on the entire route. A helicopter transfer of passengers from the arrival airport to the ski resort should be planned for daytime. Helicopters can only fly during the day, therefore, ask the broker to plan the trip in advance so that the whole flight from take-off to landing is completed before dark.

6. Make arrangements with suppliers on alternate airfields. The risk of diverting an aircraft to an alternate airfield due to bad weather when travelling to ski resorts is rather high. In this case, you should ask your broker to prepare a list of airfields in advance and to find suppliers who will provide a back-up and, if necessary, a transfer and services.

7. Opt for one service provider for the entire route. By reducing the number of suppliers, you reduce risks. For example, it will be more convenient for the passengers if the aircraft and transfer helicopter are parked next to each other, then the luggage will be looked after by someone who will be solely responsible for it. This task will be solved most reliably if both the charter and helicopter transportation are handled by one supplier.

8. Transporting ski equipment: check the aircraft's luggage compartment capacity in advance. Check in advance the dimensions of the luggage compartment of the selected business jet. And not only its volume, but also the length and width to make sure that it is big enough for the relevant ski equipment. For this purpose, you should find out in advance the dimensions, volume and quantity of the equipment. Otherwise, it will have to be placed in the cabin of the aircraft, which will cause inconvenience both to the passengers and crew.

9. Choose alternate airports at ski resorts. Arrival of most business jets to ski resorts is often planned through the small airports of the nearest towns. This often entails increased risks: the receiving capacity of small airports is more susceptible to the influence of bad weather or time of the day. We recommend to consider other landing options: take a closer look at larger airports. Perhaps, they are a little further away from your ski resort, but they can receive an aircraft even in the dark and offer much more in terms of service. The difference of a few kilometres will not play any role if your transfer is organised properly. For example, if you are flying to Courchevel, we recommend that you consider the airports of Geneva and Lyon as an alternative.

10. Aircraft de-icing: make provisions for the costs or hangar storage. The cost of treating an aircraft with de-icing fluid is usually not included in the cost of the flight and is paid for separately. But it must be included in the budget in the winter period because it is most likely to be unavoidable on the entire route. To reduce these costs, as well as to avoid high risks of an aircraft breakdown during winter parking in the open air, we recommend that you make arrangements on parking your business jet in a hangar. For example, the average cost of hangar parking is about 1,000 euros, and standard de-icing will cost about 1.5 thousand. If you are unlucky and you have to leave your aircraft in the open air in bad weather, the cost of de-icing may go through the roof up to 15,000 euros. With hangar storage, de-icing can be minimal, the total costs will be less, and the risk of an aircraft breakdown will also be reduced.

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