EBACE Convention News

World Cup brings crowds, slot headaches to Germany

 - November 30, 2006, 8:22 AM

Special slot procedures are scheduled at about 20 German airports during the World Cup football tournament to be held this summer from June 9 to July 9. The games–about 60 of them–are expected to draw a significant number of corporate aircraft to airports in and around the 12 host cities.

Between June 6 and July 11 aircraft carrying teams and spectators for the World Cup games will be given priority for slots. Flight planning specialist Feras (Booth No. 103) recommends that business aircraft crews bringing passengers to the event apply for slots as early as possible, indicating the purpose of their trip, using the service type code “O” to or from the following airports: Berlin Schoenefeld, Tegel and Tempelhof; Dusseldorf; Frankfurt Main International; Hamburg; Leipzig; Munich; Nuremberg; and Stuttgart. Alternate airports are available for some cities.

The World Cup is expected to draw thousands of travelers carried by hundreds of scheduled and charter airlines to major airports. This will create slot problems and a shortage of aircraft parking space at the busiest airports and congestion at others for the month-long tournament. Hotel rooms will also be scarce in some cities and road traffic jams may add another inconvenience for executive travelers.

The tightest spots are expected to be Frankfurt, Munich and the three Berlin airports–Schoenefeld, Tegel and Tempelhof– especially in late June and early July, when the second-stage games and the quarter- and semi-finals will be played. The final is scheduled to take place in Berlin on July 9.

What can pilots of executive aircraft and their passengers do to deal with these problems–whether or not they are going to the World Cup? According to Mathias Schlarb of Feras’ Frankfurt office, the best policy is to plan as early as possible, to avoid peak dates and be aware of alternatives. Feras also recommends using a local source as a single point of contact for handling, slots, hotel reservations and crew transportation.

Slots at the largest German airports– Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart–are coordinated by a central body called FHKD (or Airport Coordination Federal Republic of Germany, in English). During the World Cup, Hamburg, Leipzig and Nuremberg will temporarily become slot-coordinated airports.

Slot allocations are necessary at all of these airports for every takeoff and landing, and FHKD has established a priority list for access during the games. Top priority is to be granted to scheduled and pre-booked charter flights, followed by large aircraft carrying football teams and spectators, then other large commercial aircraft, while executive aircraft with only a few passengers are low on the list.

Slots can be requested directly from FHKD via SITA FRAZRXH, or via handlers and flight planning organizations. Currently, Frankfurt is the only airport to be nearly fully booked for the period, but the situation at other airports may change quickly during the next three or four weeks.

Executive travelers going to Frankfurt during the football championship have the option to divert to Egelsbach, a small airfield near Frankfurt. However, it is not ILS-equipped and cannot accept aircraft weighing more than 26,500 pounds. Frankfurt Hahn is a better equipped airport, but it is about 50 miles from downtown, which may require more than an hour of road travel, depending on traffic conditions.

In Munich, the nonpublic airport of Oberpfaffenhofen, just west of the city, could be temporarily open for executive aircraft in case of overload at MUC, with Augsburg, north of Munich, another alternative.

Berlin Tempelhof is a well-equipped and large general aviation airfield, but crowding during the days before and after the final game in early July may be such that executive aircraft not connected to the games may have to divert as far away as Leipzig. According to the TAG FBO at Tempelhof, the situation was still uncertain recently, as the Berlin airport authority had not issued any precise information, and hotel rooms were already scarce because of massive block bookings.

According to spokespeople at the various airports, no serious slot problems are expected at Cologne, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Hannover, Kaiserslautern, Leipzig, Nuremberg or Stuttgart, but there could be a shortage of aircraft parking spaces. The Service People FBO at Hamburg said it expects to see temporary opening of nonpublic airfields, including military bases, as a solution for the parking shortage if a particular game should attract a heavy traffic load. The Kurz Aviation FBO at Stuttgart Airport indicated it expects no particular problems from the football crowds, as there is no shortage of slots there and tarmac  allocated to general aviation is completely separated from the airline side of the airport.

The traffic at airports being used for the World Cup may change quickly before and during the games, so it is advisable to plan early and to stay in touch with local contacts. Information about slot procedures can be found at the Germany slot allocation agency’s Web site: www.fhkd.org/cms/39+M52087573 ab0.html.