The largest international contingent of private jets heading for the twelve Brazilian host cities for the 2014 Football World Cup is almost certain to be from the USA, Europe, and South America. However, you need a lot more than a love of football and access to a jet to guarantee that you are going to be in the stadium at the match of your choice in time for kick-off.
Owners and operators of aircraft heading for the world’s biggest magnet for football enthusiasts are going to have to navigate their way through the minefield of Brazil’s entry and slot requirements for private jets. Success here is not a given. As Christine Vamvakas, Operations Communications Manager, and Marcia Taue, Operations Manager, Brazil, at Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., explain, timely trip planning – always a vital part of any flight – is going to be even more critical where Brazil is concerned.
When EVA spoke to Christine and Marcia in the third week of April they emphasised that Universal had been in intensive planning mode for the World Cup for over a year. “It is going to be very challenging to deliver a great experience for all our clients who want to go. It is almost May and we still do not know how many aircraft we can take in to Brazil yet as some regulatory aspects haven’t been outlined yet. The limitations on what we can do will be both in terms of slots and parking,” Marcia comments.
Universal is expecting most of the airports in the various host cities to have their parking taken up by VIP jets associated with teams, sponsors and FIFA officials, so alternative airports will come into play, and passengers are going to have to expect to see their jet fly off to wherever parking is available. ‘Drop and go’ is going to be the order of the day.
Christine adds: “We think it is quite possible that all the available slots will be snapped up as soon as the Government puts them online on May 15th.” Waiting for opportunity slots that might come up if someone else cancels does not look like a winning strategy. This is the World Cup after all, and it only comes around once every four years. It is going to take a personal catastrophe of some sort to cause cancellations.
“What we are telling clients is that if you give us your schedule of which matches you want to watch, we will find the best possible solution for your flight. What you end up with might not be exactly the schedule you were looking for, but it will be one that works!” Christine notes. Marcia adds that she and her team are staying up to date with every new piece of information that is released by the authorities and it is being posted to Universal’s special World Cup web site.
With it being likely that aircraft will need to reposition to alternative airports in order to park for a few days, charter operators will need to pay careful attention to crew duty regulations to keep their flights legal. “Depending on the schedule and how far away the alternative airport is you might go over crew duty allocations so you may well need to plan for an additional stop to do a crew change in order to keep your flight legal,” she comments.
Marcia adds that when she and other Universal team members had a meeting with the Brazilian authorities a few months ago and told them how many aircraft had already requested trip planning information with respect to the World Cup, the Brazilian officials were astonished. “They had no idea that there were so many private jets heading for Brazil! Now they realise the situation. But it is not unusual in an event on this scale for slots to be made available only a few short weeks before the event. There are so many moving parts in the logistics of an event like this, making it very complex for the host country. So Brazil is not alone in issuing slots late,” she comments.
Most of the trip planning requests that Universal has dealt with so far are for larger, long range jets. As might be expected, it is the Globals, the G5s and G450s and Dassault’s Falcon 7Xs that everyone is planning to use. “We aren’t seeing anything that doesn’t have a flying range of eight hours or more,” Christine comments.
Getting to Brazil is only one part of the problem, she points out. Transportation from the hotel – assuming you can get a room! – to the stadium is going to be an exercise in navigating gridlock. “We are telling clients that they definitely need to think ahead and allow plenty of time for any road journeys they have to take,” Marcia says. She adds that they have heard that Brazil is likely to ban all helicopter flights on the days of the various matches, so avoiding the crowded roads by chartering a helicopter once you’re in country, is probably not going to work. “They have not published the rules yet officially, so we are not sure that helicopters will not be an option, but it seems likely,” she adds.
By 17th April Universal had already had hundreds of legs confirmed, with around 1000 requests for the final. “If you are planning on going you need to book now. Leaving it till two weeks before a match is due to start is hopeless.”