London Airports – Busy Summer Operational Challenges
This year’s summer period in London will be like no other. The last coronation in England took place in 1953, well before business aviation knew any parking limits or slot restrictions.
While limits and restrictions are now a regular occurrence at London airports every summer, we expect challenges to begin earlier and last longer this year. Each airport is expected to have its own unique challenges and FPI remains prepared to overcome every obstacle to ensure a successful trip.
Below we review the five major airports and their expected status for the near future:
Luton Airport is expected to operate at full capacity during the coronation period (05th – 08th May). The airport slot authorities have requested to be informed of all GA aircraft arriving for the coronation. While it is expected that non-coronation movements will still be permitted and slots will continue to become available on first-come first serves basis, Luton is known for having limited GA parking and operators are encouraged to submit their parking requests early.
Night operations at Luton will be challenging as there will be no night slots available for GA flights between 2200z and 0559z from June 1st until September 30th. While the summer night closure was expected, the restrictions this year span one month longer than occurred in 2022.
Changing slots and running into the night period will not be allowed, and operators will have to adjust their schedules accordingly.
Stansted Airport is expected to become the airport of choice for many heads of states and operators who generally try to avoid Heathrow. The airport is known to have ample parking available and FBOs are geared to accommodate larger aircraft.
Even so, parking can occasionally become an issue. While Stansted remained available throughout the London Olympics in 2012, we observed that the airport ran out of parking for the late Queen’s funeral in 2022.
Due to the amount of interest from foreign delegations and heads of state during the coronation period, flights between April 27 and May 28 will need to be booked manually with the airport authorities and additional information may be requested. Operators are advised to be patient as it is likely that slots may not be approved until 10-14 days prior to their flight taking place.
Night operations will be particularly difficult at Stansted this summer. While the airport was once the best night option for London (with limited number of night slots), the runway work this year will make things more difficult. Similar to 2022, there will be a total of 10 night slots per week available and shared among all FBOs on a first come first served basis. However, the runway work this year will make most of the nights heavily restricted until 08th Jun 2023.
Thursdays and Fridays will not see closures during the night hours (2200z-0600z), and 10 night flights per week will be permitted.
However, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays will have the following restrictions due to runway work:
- 2301z-2315z Full closure Saturday to Wednesday
- 2315z-0445z Reduced distance / 1900m runway operations
- 0445z-0500z No closure
While Farnborough is a popular London GA airport, it has never been an option during nighttime hours (opening hours are 0600-2100z during weekdays and 0700z-1900z during weekends).
However, the airport does offer some good news this summer in that the expected annual weekend quota cap may not be reached this year. While it is too early to estimate how much traffic King Charles’ coronation will bring, the current numbers show that restricting weekend movements to based clients may not be necessary this year. Either way, operators are encouraged to book early.
The airport remains a good option for clients wanting to visit London during its opening hours 0530-2200z during the week and 0700-2100z on weekends.
The airport is known to have ample parking. While the coronation period may be very busy, the airport is usually able to accommodate last-minute requests.
Helicopter shuttles from the airport to central London have also become popular. These are weather-dependent and operators should take British weather into consideration when planning helicopter transportation.
London South End
While the airport often gets overlooked due to its slightly longer travel times to central London, it remains the only viable option for 24/7 night operations, if overtime is arranged in advance.
It is a good airport of entry for international flights, and the team remains prepared to welcome clients who are unable to secure parking and slots at other London airports.
— — —
To learn more about FPI’s London-based Special Services Network (SSN) team and their specific expertise regarding London-area travel situations, please contact our Operations staff here at Flight Pro International.
Our success is your success! Partner with us today.