Moscow-area airports are always busy with business aircraft movements, and traffic to this area continues to grow. The good news is that operators have different airport options, parking is seldom an issue, and permit processes are manageable with advance planning.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. There are three main airports for Moscow
Vnukovo (UUWW) is 18 miles southwest of the city center, with a typical drive time of about 45 minutes. Sheremetyevo (UUEE) is located about 18 miles north-northwest of the city center while Domodedovo (UUDD) is located about 14 miles southwest of the city and a drive of about 60-90 minutes. During heavy traffic drive time from the center to any of Moscow’s three airports can take up to two hours. All three airports accept General Aviation (GA), as well as scheduled commercial traffic. Scheduled commercial aircraft have priority at all three airports for airport slots, aircraft parking, fueling, and de-ice services.
2. Vnukovo has the best GA facilities
UUWW is a 24-hour Airport of Entry (AOE) with a General Aviation Terminal (GAT) offering Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance on-site. This airport does not have noise restrictions, and aircraft parking space is usually ample. This is the only Moscow-area airport allowing private vehicle pickup planeside. To arrange planeside pickup, it’s necessary to provide vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number, but driver information is not necessary. Note that diplomatic flights normally use this airport, and airport authorities will shut down airport operations with little notice, for head-of-state or certain diplomatic flights. There’s an additional parking fee to park close to the GAT at Terminal 3.
3. Airport slots and PPRs are needed for UUWW
Airport slots should be requested as soon as schedule is known. Slot deviation is +/- 15 minutes. There are restrictions for Friday operations to this airport. Specifically, strict lead time restrictions will apply to all requests for operations Fridays, 1200-1600 UTC. Requests that are submitted for this time period must be coordinated no later than 1300 UTC the Thursday prior to operations. If airport slots for operations during this time are not requested before the Thursday deadline, they will be rejected, and the approved times will be moved to the closest available Friday arrival/departure time after 1600 UTC.
The Prior Permission Required (PPR) should be requested as soon as schedule is known, and the lead time is a minimum of four days prior to arrival. Short-notice PPR requests may be possible depending on parking availability. If parking is not available at UUWW, the aircraft may drop off/pick up passengers and depart. While there is no limitation in terms of extended parking, fees do escalate on a per-hour basis. Note that hangar space may be available for GA, on a first-come, first-served basis, but this can be very expensive, particularly during winter months.
4. Domodedovo is also a popular option
UUDD is a 24-hour AOE with busy scheduled commercial traffic. GAT and GA CIQ clearance are at the AVCOM D terminal, and clearance takes approximately 15 minutes. No airport slots or PPRs are required for UUDD, and hangar space for up to the size of a Gulfstream V is available on a first-come, first-served basis. This airport has plenty of aircraft parking, and parking charges are based on metric tons on a per-hour basis. The disadvantage of UUDD for many operators is its distance from the city center.
5. Sheremetyevo is strict on requirements
UUEE is also a 24-hour AOE and currently has no noise restrictions. Note that UUEE has a strict airport slot allocation program in place with a slot deviation of +/- 15 minutes. If you operate outside this deviation time, airport authorities will impose a fine. It’s best to request airport slots as soon as schedule is known. (A minimum of five business days in advance is recommended.) Landing permits will not be confirmed without airport slot confirmation. Warning: If schedule changes within several hours of arrival, the aircraft may be diverted to an alternate airport.
6. Be aware of UUEE procedures
GA clears CIQ at a GAT separate from the rest of the airport, and clearance time is approximately 20 minutes. Note that this airport has heavy commercial traffic, and aircraft parking can be an issue. The first three hours of parking are free, and after that the charge is 1% of your landing permit charge for operations 0600-2200 local and 1.5% of landing permit charge 2200-0600 local.
While all three Moscow-area airports are good stops and have their unique advantages, UUWW is the preferred choice for most operators – followed by UUDD. UUEE, due to its high level of scheduled commercial traffic and strict adherence to slot times, may limit opportunities for schedule changes.