February 2, 2016

Navigating Private Air Travel to The Summer Olympics

Editor’s Note: We sat down with Cynthia C. E. Oliveira, Operations Director, and Ana Paula Martin, International Operations Manager from Lider Aviation, Brazil’s premier FBO network, to talk about what you should be doing now to prepare for travel to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Their professional experience, as well as having just successfully navigated the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, gives them unique insights for anyone planning a trip to the Olympics in 2016.

With a projected 7.5 million tickets being sold for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it’s never too early to start planning. But, with many of the critical flight planning details still months away, you may be holding off until you have more facts. It’s time get serious about planning your August travels, because the “A” word you should be concerned about right now—Availability.

Here are nine things that should be top of mind right now if you’re planning to fly to the 2016 Olympics—and availability is the undercurrent for each:

  1. Set Expectations for Service Levels—The Brazilian people are some of most friendly on the planet, and they can’t wait for your visit. That said, unprecedented volume is going to put strain on delivering the level of service you and your passengers normally expect.
  2. Get Your Hotels Now—If your passengers are expecting a high-end American-style hotel experience, book it right now. That isn’t to say local Rio hotels can’t deliver. But the supply of hotels providing world-class service will be far short of the demand.
  3. Be Patient With Customs—In Brazil, customs is only handled at the main airport terminals. The FBOs are working hard to get that changed in time for the Olympic period, but it hasn’t happened yet. Prepare for an extra hour or two to clear customs plus van rides to the terminal and back. And, if your passengers are accustomed to private/VIP customs screenings, the volume of visitors might make it difficult to get.
  4. Keep Catering Simple—The more complex the catering order, the greater the likelihood that details will be missed. You might consider simple things like sandwiches or snacks to sustain your passengers as you travel out of Rio. Then, arrange for more detailed and specific catering during a tech stop or at a place away from Rio that isn’t pressured by the volume.
  5. Take Advantage of the NEW VISA Rule—If you’re traveling to Rio from the United States, Canada, Japan or Australia, you can take advantage of a window from June 1 – September 18, 2016 where citizens of these countries won’t need VISAs to enter.
  6. Understand How Slots are Being Allocated—For most of the two+ weeks the Olympics are taking place (August 5 – 21, 2016), 80% of the slots will be reserved for commercial aircraft, with 10% going to VIPs (VIP status will be determined by Brazilian airspace authorities and the International Olympic committee), leaving the final 10% for general aviation. However, for the two days on either side of the opening ceremony (August 5, 2016) and closing ceremony (August 21, 2016), the ratios change to 70% commercial, 15% VIP and 15% general aviation. It’s complex. Here’s a link to the official ruling to help sort out the details.
  7. Watch The Brazilian Soccer/Football Teams—As the Brazilian team advanced in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, so did the interest in Brazilians to follow them—literally. With each World Cup win, more Brazilian’s took to the skies to cheer their team on. After a heartbreaking loss to Germany in the World Cup Semi-finals, expect more Brazilians take to the air (between the five soccer venues and Rio) with each victory to cheer their teams on to a Gold Medal.
  8. Provide a Little Information Now—Start letting people know you’re coming. Even if you don’t have all the details, a rough sketch of your trip now helps everyone better plan to serve you while you’re there. You can always update details later.
  9. Volunteers Require More Patience—Of the 48,000 Olympic volunteers, expect those you encounter to be trained, enthusiastic and friendly. But please don’t expect them to be perfect, especially when it comes to the needs of your aircraft and passengers. Extending extra patience and understanding toward them will be returned to you tenfold. In many cases, the first step must be yours.

As home to the world’s second largest business aircraft fleet, and with the lessons from a successful 2014 World Cup still fresh in their mind, the people of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, specifically) are excited for your trip to the Olympics and ready to receive you, your airplane, and your passengers with open arms. They want the same things you do. And with a bit of advance planning, everyone will have a great experience.

In a few months, air travel routes and regulations will be announced. Once they are, look for more timely and detailed information from the team at Business Flyer. And, if planning a trip to the 2016 Summer Olympics has you feeling like you’re entering a decathlon, Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) can help. For years, we’ve helped thousands of our clients successfully navigate hundreds of world-class events with industry leading service and support throughout the trip. Learn more by clicking here or contacting your trusted Customer Service representative directly. Or, you can emailcustomerservice@jeppesen.com or call (800) 353-2108.

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