Flight planners prepare for World Cup traffic

 - May 3, 2010, 5:54 AM

 The first World Cup soccer tournament to be hosted on the African continent
is expected to draw a big influx of business and private jets to South Africa
for the month-long event from June 11 to July 11. Flight-planning specialists are urging operators to start making plans immediately to avoid potentially serious constraints on landing and takeoff slots, as well as aircraft parking.

Organizer Fifa is expecting some 550,000 people to attend the 64 games, including 400,000 foreign visitors. Numerically, business jet passengers will be a small percentage of these but they could be among the most inconvenienced by South Africa’s somewhat limited infrastructure if their aircraft operators do not prepare early.

At the forefront of arrangements to handle the bizav influx to South Africa is ExecuJet Aviation. It has long-established FBOs at two key airports, Lanseria International (near Johannesburg) and Cape Town International. The company, which was founded in South Africa before becoming a global business aviation services group, is already working with flight-planning companies Universal Weather & Aviation (through its UVAir subsidiary) and Air Routing International to help operators with trip arrangements.

UVAir senior trip owner Justin Murray said, “Ideally, operators should have started this process by now, but if they haven’t then they certainly should start now.”
ExecuJet has prebooked approximately 16,000 provisional slots for the tournament period. However, these must be allocated to a specific aircraft tail number through the South African Air Force (SAAF), which is responsible for slot allocation.

Murray explained to AIN that pilots have to be security screened before their operators can even apply for a slot. In theory, only the pilot-in-command needs to be security screened, but UVAir is advising clients to get clearance for any pilot who might have to act as captain.

The first step is for pilots to complete the SAAF’s security clearance form. Once the screening process is complete, which will take a minimum of 24 hours, the SAAF issues a security code that is unique to each pilot. This is combined with a flight authorization code that creates a unique identifier for each flight plan. A different approval code is required for each separate flight.

UVair is warning that aircraft parking space is going to be limited at most
of the airports serving the World Cup. At the main airports there is likely to be a drop-and-go policy, requiring operators to relocate their aircraft as soon as passengers have disembarked.

Another consideration for operators will be the need to get overflight permits. An operator flying from Europe might well have to secure permits from eight or nine different African states in a part of the world that is notorious for maddening bureaucracy. UVair warned that the lead-time for overflight permits can be at least 14 days.

South Africa itself will require an overflight permit in addition to a landing slot and a landing permit. According to UVAir, if an aircraft is carrying more than eight passengers it will be necessary to apply for a foreign operator’s permit with a separate form. This has to be done at least two weeks before the aircraft’s arrival.

Air Routing is also advising clients “that they need to solidify schedules now, and operators should certainly get help if they are not used to flying in Africa,” said assistant manager of operations Matt Pahl. He predicted that operators coming from the U.S. will likely opt to fly via the Caribbean or Brazil to avoid having to overfly other African countries.

Air Routing prepares schedules on behalf of clients before passing these along to its South African representative, ExecuJet, to work on slots and parking arrangements. Pahl said that Lanseria will likely prove to be a popular airport for the business aviation community, but added that Cape Town and the new Durban International Airport have much larger ramps. Air Routing is also advising operators to pre-book fuel purchases to avoid delays.