By Julia Tichawa

A big advantage of private jets over commercial airlines is the possibility to land at small, regional airports and thus shorten the journey to the destination. On the one hand, this is due to the shorter distance to the destination, but also due to saving long waiting time at check-in or at the security check at major airports. However, our customers often ask us “Can a private jet still land at major airports?”

We have written this article to explain why we prefer to avoid large airports besides the fact that we always can. We also will explain the advantages of landing at small airports, and how we know whether we can land at certain airports.

Of course, there is always the possibility of landing at large airports and this is not a problem if the passenger prefers it. However, there are factors that, in our view, make travelling with a landing or take-off at large airports rather complicated.



Holding patterns at big airports

When there is a high volume of traffic at airports, it is not uncommon for aircraft to perform maneuvers such as holding patterns. The holding pattern allows air traffic control to let aircraft “wait in the air” untill there is a slot to land or the traffic has diminished. The aircraft circles over a certain point awaiting further clearance (e.g. to land). At large airports, it is almost normal to lose time waiting in these loops.

The Holding Fix as a guide for the pilot.
Holding Fix (red triangle) as GPS coordinates of the holding loop.

Parking at big airports

Usually our customers book the return flight on the same day or a few days later. Meanwhile, the plane is parked at the destination airport.
At special events such as football matches, or in high season, such as at Ibiza Airport, there may not be enough parking space for the private jets. The aircraft will therefore have to be parked at another airport before the passengers are picked up. The latter increases the cost of private flying.

Onward journey

When landing at a major airport, traffic jams on surrounding highways are often rule rather than the exception. When you land at small, regional airports, you certainly do not lose this precious time. Read in our blog how to avoid traffic jams in Europe.

Waiting queues are one reason why we avoid landing at major airports.
Queues are not uncommon at airports and add a lot to travel time.

How do we actually know which airports we can land at?

Before each flight, our operational team at Fly Aeolus must check the technical conditions for take-off and landing. In order for an aircraft to land/take off, the runway must be long enough. How much runway is needed depends on several factors, which we assess before making a quote and commitment.

In short, the required landing and runway length depends on the dynamic lift of an aircraft – specifically the dynamic lift of an aircraft’s wing. How strong this lift is, is strongly related to the following factors. It depends among others on the air density, speed and the shape of the wings.

Dynamic lift when landing with the private jet at major airports.
The emergence of dynamic lift.

The required lift for take-off or landing depends on the weight of the passengers, the luggage, and the required fuel. If we have more weight, we would need more lift. And depending on the air density the aircraft would need more or less runway to create the required lift.

We would need longer runways at higher altitude airports, which we could counteract taking less fuel on-board. The latter could mean we would need to make a fuelstop going to the final destination. Read more about weight limits on private jets in our Weight and Balance blog.

In addition, the temperature also influences the air density as the air expands at high temperatures or compresses at low temperatures. This also reduces or increases the lift which means that our private jet consequentially would need a longer or shorter runway.

Our team uses specific manuals for exactly this information. In the manual of our Cirrus SR22 aircraft. Based on the corresponding table which includes the altitude and temperature of the airport, it gives us the minimum runway length required.

Can a private jet land at major airports? This table helps us for the calculation
Section of the Cirrus SR22 manual

Can a private jet land at big airports?

Yes, of course we can! Of course, we are also happy to fly you to the major airports in Europe. However, due to the many disadvantages that these airports bring, we recommend that you fly to the smaller, more regional airports or book in advance to secure your parking slot at the airport. From there, your final destination can usually be reached by taxi within an average of 20 minutes. Discover our 1600 European destinations.

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For more information, you can email us at info@flyaeolus.com or call us at +32 (0)3 500 9082.

Aerotask: retrieved from: https://aerotask.de/warum-fliegen-flugzeuge-eine-warteschleife-holding/ (2015)

Wikipedia: retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juancho_E._Yrausquin_Airport (2022)

Byjus: retrieved from: https://byjus.com/physics/dynamic-lift/ (2022)