How does airport availability work?
Flying private air charter flights, airport availability becomes much more important than with commercial flights. Commercial flights are planned on an airtight schedule, though the aircraft departure and arrival times may greatly differ from what is planned. Private jet charter allows you to fly exactly when and where you want, meaning the exact opposite scenario arises, your flight itinerary is usually planned with little notice and may conflict with airport availability. Luckily, flying private means you can land at any airport you desire, no matter how low or high the traffic density of the airport is.
When taking off or landing at an airport, you pay a landing fee (which generally also includes a takeoff fee). Now this number can range anywhere from $150 for a small aircraft landing at a very low density airport to $4,000 for an airliner-sized aircraft landing during a high density period at an already high density airport. For this reason, many private flights will take this airport availability into account and will choose to fly to executive airports. These airports tend to be much smaller, have multiple FBOs offering very comfortable check in and security clearance routines. Since few large scale flights land at executive airports, this means the landing fees are on the low side, and also allow you to avoid long security lines and checks, sometimes being able to simply walk up or drive up to your private jet.
FBOs or fixed base operators are essentially the “terminal” you will be arriving at. Though the term terminal is not quite accurate enough to explain the various services offered by FBOs, for group travelers, ground catering can be arranged for all of your passengers. Anything from snacks to a full scale reception can be organized while you wait for your aircraft to pull up to the FBO, or simply as a last stop before leaving the airport. Vehicles can be rented on-site, everything from limousines to armored vehicles. Security services are also commonly offered at FBOs. So to give the term terminal to such a luxurious alternative is sacrilege.
High density charges work one of two ways. Firstly, high traffic international airports tend to land thousands of aircraft per day, meaning finding a landing slot for your jet may take a while, or cost a little extra. For this reason, international airports are generally avoided unless flying internationally, as customs checks are difficult to find at smaller airports. These airports will always be expensive to land in, no matter the time of year, with especially excessive fees during extra high density times such as holidays. The second type of high density charge is exactly as explained above. High density times are common at many airports, not simply limited to international airports, that means during Christmas or thanksgiving, smaller executive airport landing fees will be more expensive than the norm.
Now for private aircraft, landing times can be an issue occasionally. Most smaller, municipal airports will be open between 8 am and 8 pm. While most international airports will allow you to land around the clock, some international airports (in Europe mostly) will often close at 10pm. For any more information about airport availability or if you need help booking a private jet, contact us and a charter specialist will assist you.