Las Vegas airports are bracing themselves for a never-before-seen number of aircraft landing, parking, and taking off around the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Area airports require prior permission for arrivals, weeks ahead of the event that officially begins with an opening ceremony on November 15, followed by practice sessions and qualifying on November 17 and 18. The F1 weekend culminates with the main event on November 18.
Aircraft delivering race cars and fans are expected to fly in and out of Harry Reid International Airport, Henderson Executive Airport, and North Las Vegas Airport. Airports in the Las Vegas area are owned by the Clark County Department of Aviation, and both Harry Reid and Henderson have been preparing for the event by extending ramp space to accommodate an increased demand for aircraft parking. The prior permission required (PPR) program is now being enforced at all three airports. Aircraft landing without advance permission will not be allowed to deplane passengers and may only fuel up to get to another destination.
Harry Reid is the airport handling the cargo involved with Formula 1. Eight widebody jets carry the race cars, pit equipment, and all related material.
Both FBOs at Harry Reid—Atlantic and Signature—are already at capacity and are not issuing any more PPRs. According to a customer service representative at Signature, during the race, there’s a one-time fee of $7,700 plus additional charges for overnight parking and handling. Depending on type of aircraft, those can run up to $994 for overnight parking and $2,290 for handling. The fee at Atlantic is comparatively cheap at $3,500.
A customer service representative at Air Elite, based at Henderson Executive Airport, said that its fee would be $3,000 plus overnight parking and landing, depending on type of aircraft. The airport’s parking is divided into three zones—one for parking, one for quick turnaround, and one for NetJets.
For those not familiar with F1, it is the highest class of international auto racing, and races are held around the world on both tracks and circuits created on (closed) public roads in the host city—the most famous of these being Monte Carlo, Monaco. The race cars are open-wheel, single-seat racing cars. Determined through a point system, two winners emerge after every season—one driver and one team (constructor). The enduring fascination of the race (the first season took place in 1950) has to do with the drivers’ ability to navigate their cars through a real city’s bends and curves at a very high speed, as well as strategically planned and extremely fast pit stops—typically less than three seconds to change four tires—and very competitive drivers. And of course it’s not just a race. Fans snapped up tickets to watch practices and qualifying, when timed laps determine the starting order for the race. At the time of this writing, general admission tickets were already sold out, as well as the most desirable grandstand zones and private suites. The opening ceremony will feature musical acts from Keith Urban and Journey, and performances by Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group.
The event is touted as one of the biggest sporting events of the year, and it’s probably just as big for all airports involved (and a dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl in February 2024).