London Fashion Week is held twice a year, in both fall and spring, and it’s part of the “Big 4” international fashion weeks. It brings the who’s who of the fashion world to London, together with a large quantity of business jets in supporting roles. This year’s spring event will be held February 14-18, 2020. Fall Fashion week will be September 18-22, 2020.
If you are operating your business aircraft in the area during this time (even if not specifically for this event), the following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Airport options
London is served by six general aviation (GA) friendly airports, providing professional and comprehensive support and handling services to transient operators. Stansted (EGSS) and Luton (EGGW) are a 60-75 minute drive to the West End depending upon traffic, while Northolt (EGWU) and London City (EGLC) are even closer to the fashion runways. Biggin Hill (EGKB) is also a good option, although on the other side of the city, and Farnborough (EGLF) is about a 115-minute drive to the primary fashion venues.
2. Airport hours and curfews
The only 24-hour GA friendly airfields in the London area are EGSS and EGGW. And while both are 24/7, they are subject to limited slot availability – first come, first served.
All other airport options have restricted hours of operation, although all six are airports of entry (AOEs).
3. Parking availability
EGLC has a particularly limited parking ramp, and you may only be able to drop and go at this location.
EGWU, being military air base, requires several days’ lead time to organize access with parking approvals generally more restrictive than other airports. While EGWU occasionally runs out of GA parking availability it’s usually possible to obtain extended parking here, with prior arrangement.
EGGW also runs out of GA parking from time to time and can be a very expensive proposition in terms of parking charges. While EGSS has a large GA ramp, and seldom fills up, this is now the third busiest airport in London, after Heathrow (EGLL) and Gatwick (EGKK). Meanwhile, EGLF usually has GA parking availability, but this is a Stage 4 airport with restricted operating hours. In general, we recommend three to four days’ lead time for parking requests in the London area.
For more information and assistance securing parking, Universal Aviation UK – Stansted can help.
4. Hotels and local transport
London Fashion Week takes place during a busy period for both tourism and business. While many preferred hotels in central London sell out, there should be no problem locating acceptable crew accommodations. Plan on 4-star room pricing between 250-500 £/night. Accommodations can be sourced based on crew preferences and budget. For example, some crew like to stay in central London while others may prefer a country hotel close to a golf course. For local transport in London the underground tube system is convenient and safe, as are black London taxis. You may also want to consider ridesharing apps or have your ground handler arrange transport between the airport and hotel.
You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs.
5. Catering considerations
The London area has some terrific caterers who primarily service the GA market. While there are good in-flight catering options to be had at all airports there are no issues in bringing catering from hotels/restaurants through security and out to your aircraft, assuming this is coordination with your handler.
For more information on catering, visit Air Culinaire Worldwide.
6. Airport slots
Airport slots are mandated for arrivals/departures at Stansted (EGSS), Luton (EGGW) and London City (EGLC). Best practice is to forward your schedule to your fixed base operator (FBO) or handler, and they’ll arrange slots based on your requirements. EGSS is usually very accommodating in providing slots at preferred times while EGGW occasionally runs out of airport slot availability, particularly on Sundays. For other area airports, including Biggin Hill (EGKB) and Farnborough (EGLF), there are no airport slot requirements.
7. EGWU PPR considerations
Prior permission required (PPR) is needed for operation into Northolt (EGWU). Three business days’ lead time is usually sufficient to organize PPR. It’s important to be aware that EGWU declares no parking availability, due to full capacity, from time to time. Be mindful also that EGWU is very stringent on numbers of passengers onboard for arrival and departure as access to this airbase is restricted. It’s not an issue to delete a passenger or crew member from the manifest, but don’t arrive with an additional passenger or have an extra passenger show up for departure. Preplanning is key when operating to EGWU, and an unexpected bump in passenger count will cause issues.
Note: EGWU has limited day-time only access and no weekend movements. It is also prone to last-minute closures due to government / military operations.
8. Permit requirements
While private non-revenue operations do not require permits, charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators do. Permit request lead times of 48-72 hours are recommended although charter permits may be processed on shorter notice. Note that permits are processed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) only Monday-Friday 0900-1700 local, and it’s important to supply all required documentation with the first request. Once a permit is approved validity is quite generous with a 48-hour window for arrival/departure. Schedule changes are not really an issue. However, if you need to change origin or destination airports this must be re-approved by CAA before you conduct that leg, and it’s something that occasionally trips up some operators.
9. Clearing CIQ
CIQ procedures are relatively similar and straight-forward at London area airports. All airports have contracts and service level agreements in place with the UK Border Force. Passport validity is only needed for length of stay. Visas may or may not be needed, based on nationality and purpose of visit. For example, U.S. nationals may arrive for tourism and most business purposes with no visa and stay UK up to six months. But if you’re arriving to do any work that will be paid for by a UK entity – a fashion model, actor or photographer for example – you may require a work visa. As visas on arrival are not possible in the UK, it’s imperative that passengers have any required visas prior to arrival.
10. Pets and guns onboard
If traveling with a pet, the only airports in the London that will accept temporary pet importation are EGSS, EGKB and EGLF. However, it’s important not to just bring in any random species of pet as only a cat, dog or ferret will be accepted. We recommend leaving more exotic pets at home.
If bringing a pet onboard, note the following:
- DEFRA must pre approve you as an operator to that particular airport before travel.
- Getting approval from DEFRA can take up to two weeks.
- You must pre-notify your handler of the arriving pet.
- You must ensure that full health documentation is available for the animal.
For more in this, read our previous article on Pet Travel at EGSS.
And, if you plan to do a little hunting in the UK before or after Fashion Week additional pre-planning steps are necessary and your ground handler can help facilitate the process. The Grouse season runs from August 12 to December 10 and the pheasant hunting season starts on Oct 1 in this part of the world.
11. Noise considerations
Be mindful that EGLF is a Stage 4 airport. Stage 3 operators, who satisfy local noise mandates may also operate here. When flying to the London area it’s important to observe all noise abatement procedures and routing requirements. For example, at EGGW if you veer off your track you could face a noise bust, involving substantial operator fines.
London Fashion Week traditionally attracts a great deal of business aviation traffic. It’s important to begin making parking and accommodation arrangements as soon as schedule is known. Be aware of the airport options in the area and how that may affect your operations regarding operating times and parking to name a few.
Depending on the airfield you choose for your operation to this event, it’s important to consider airport slots, parking, and PPR requirements. Additionally, be aware of noise requirements in the area.