Updated November 27, 2013
The XXII Olympic Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia, on the shore of the Black Sea, from Feb. 7 to 23 and the Paralympic Winter Games will be held from Mar. 7 to 16. Authorities in the Russian Federation expect a sharp increase in air traffic during the Games, and have implemented several airport and security restrictions in conjunction with the event.
Business aircraft operators will be required to obtain arrival slots, landing permits, and should be aware of strict limitations on parking, ground services (including fuel) and customs clearance services. Many of these procedures will be in effect for the entire winter season, beginning Jan. 1 and continuing through April 30, 2014.
This NBAA webpage, produced with assistance from Universal Weather & Aviation, will be regularly updated with the latest operational information for flights to Sochi during the Games. For additional information, also updated regularly, review Universal’s blog post, Winter Games Update: Business Aviation Trip Planning Tips.
Also, review the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency’s NOTAM for Sochi operations during the Games.
Currently, no new airspace restrictions, or changes to approaches at Sochi International Airport (URSS) have been announced for the Games.
Normally, the Federal Air Transport Agency requires foreign aircraft to hire and use a Russian “escort navigator” for flights within Russia. However, during the Olympics, the agency has indicated it will waive this requirement on a case-by-case basis. If the Federal Air Transport Agency requires an aircraft to use an escort navigator, the navigator will be assigned by the agency.
All flights to Sochi (URSS) will be required to obtain arrival slots and landing permits. Slots will be strictly controlled by the Federal Security Service (FSS). Business aviation operations have been divided into five categories, and each category given a date when slots may be requested:
- International and domestic scheduled charter flights: Sept. 1, 2013
- Flights for athletes, their families, heads of state, sports federations, Olympic sponsors and marketing partners: Nov. 1, 2013
- International and domestic non-scheduled charter flights: Dec. 1, 2013
- Cargo flights: 14 days prior to operations
- All other operations, including U.S. Part 91 flights (not transporting passengers in the second category): Five days prior to operations
All arrival slots will be issued with only a +/- 30-minute deviation allowed.
However, some third-party flight planning service providers have reported that slot requests for all categories of operators have been confirmed, even before the date indicated on the NOTAM. With the approval process apparently very fluid, NBAA strongly encourages operators use a flight planning provider.
Issued by the Federal Air Transport Agency, landing permits will also be required at URSS, and the agency will not begin processing landing permit requests until the FSS has approved an arrival slot for that flight.
During the Olympics, nearly all flights to Sochi International (URSS) will be drop-and-go only operations.
No business aircraft will be permitted to park at URSS during the Games, except those carrying government officials, Olympic Committee members or qualified sponsors.
All other aircraft will be given a two-hour window during which they will be allowed on the ground at URSS. Thus, while departure slots will not be required, the time on a aircraft’s arrival slot will determine its time of departure.
Customs Clearance and Airports-of-Entry
Except for governmental operations, clearance by Customs, Immigration & Quarantine (CIQ) will be not likely be available at URSS. All business aircraft will need to use another Russian airport as their airport-of-entry (AOE). Any Russian airport with CIQ services available to business aviation is acceptable, however nearby alternate airports inside Russia include:
- Krasnodar International (URKK): This is the official alternate airport for Sochi. It is open 24 hours, and is an AOE. However, only 50 parking spaces are available, and expected to fill up quickly.
- Anapa/Vitazevo (URKA): Also open 24 hours and an AOE. Only 40 parking spaces available.
- Stavropol International (URMT): Stavropol is an AOE, but has extremely limited hours.
- Rostov-on-Don (URRR): Open 24 hours and an AOE.
- Gelendzhik (URKG): Parking may be available, but URKG is not an AOE.
All passengers and crewmembers must have valid Russian visas prior to arrival. Third party flight planners recommend applying for business visas at least two months in advance for travel to the Olympic Games. No visas will be granted on arrival.
An information package containing additional entry requirements for athletes, officials and visitors has been issued by the Olympic Organizing Committee and disseminated through the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). View IBAC Bulletin 130-01: Sochi Olympics and Para-Olympics – Russian Federation Entry Requirements (PDF).
Fuel and Ramp Services at URSS
There is currently no central fuel system at URSS. Fuel will be available, but on a very limited basis, as only three fuel trucks are expected on the field to serve all aircraft, including commercial and business aviation. There is no Jet A at URSS; the only jet fuel available is TS-1.
Ground handling resources, such as de-icing services, air stairs, ground power units (GPUs) and other ramp services are also expected to be limited. At URSS, all ground handling services are provided by the Sochi International Airport Authority, through licensed vendors. Operators are advised to request ramp services, including fuel, in advance.
Additional private security can be arranged for aircraft, crews and passengers at URSS, however requests require approval from the FSS and security personnel will be provided by FSS.
Ground Transportation and Hotels in Sochi
All ground transportation in Sochi, including public taxis, will be strictly controlled by the Sochi Olympic Committee (SOC) and FSS. There is a train, the Aero Express, between the airport and downtown Sochi, that operates every two to three hours. No helicopter flights will be permitted in the area during the Games.
All business aviation operators are encouraged to reserve a driver in advance.
All hotel rooms in the area were blocked out by the SOC two years in advance. At previous Olympic Games, the host committee has released some hotel rooms a few weeks in advance of the Games, but no such announcement has yet been made for Sochi 2014.
For More Information
NBAA strongly recommends all operators flying to Sochi during the Olympics work with a third-party flight planning service. For a list of such services, see the NBAA Products & Services Directory.