Travelers to remote locations, especially top ski resorts, are often unable to reach those destinations by regular commercial flight unless they are prepared to travel long distances by road or other means from larger airports.
Private jets, including turboprops, are often better suited to land and take off on short runways at remote locations, making them the preferred form of transportation for skiers.
Today, we talk about reaching one of the most magnificent ski areas in the world – Les Trois Vallees in the French Alps. With four resorts in the immediate vicinity, the Courchevel area boasts one of the largest connected ski areas in the world, offering up a mixture of adventure, culture, comfort and even luxury.
It is part of the largest ski area in the world and has an excellent lift system, therefore queuing happens rarely. Moreover, has Courchevel various luxury shops and the most Michelin-starred restaurants in comparison to any other ski resort.
Courchevel 1850 is the best known of the four resorts in the immediate vicinity, known for top-tier entertainment, gourmet dining and adventure options for all ages and skill levels. There are other world-class resorts, such as Meribel, in the extended valley area.
Travel options to the Courchevel area are rather limited, due to some particular characteristics we will mention below. The most direct option is to fly by private jets and helicopters into Courchevel Altiport (IATA: CVF; ICAO: LFLJ). However, as we discuss, even private jets are not always readily allowed to fly into Courchevel.
Courchevel is high up on the French Alps. The airport (altiport) is located at an elevation of 6,588 feet (2,008 meters) above sea level. While Courchevel boasts the highest asphalted runway in Europe, said runway is extremely short (525 meters or approximately 1722 feet), has a steep approach and is located on an uphill gradient.
Another issue at Courchevel is the “no go around” provision enforced there. This means that if there is a last-second need for course adjustment while landing and the pilot wants to abort or pull out of the approach, they cannot circle back and come around. Because of this very reason, pilots flying into Courchevel altiport are also required to follow special training before being allowed to land there.
Given the altitude, weather and steepness of the surrounding terrain, the French Civil Aviation Authority (DAGC) have extremely strict guidelines that govern almost all commercially chartered flights, including commercially chartered private jets (more about this in the next section).
Even small and medium-sized private jets have a hard time landing and taking off from Courchevel, and the DAGC restrictions make it even more difficult to gain permission.
In terms of minimum runway length, there are a number of variables to consider:
In general, the rule of thumb is that a turboprop can operate on about 2,800 feet of runway at sea level, while light and medium jets need at least 5,000 feet. For every 2,000 feet of elevation, an extra 1,000 feet of runway is required.
Given that the runway length at Courchevel airport is shorter than 2,000 feet, the above figures demonstrate why taking off and landing is a challenge given the high altitude. One redeeming factor is that the cold temperature and higher humidity make it possible for some light aircraft to land and take off under the right conditions.
For all the reasons mentioned above, and mainly due to security concerns, the DGAC is extremely restrictive about flights into Courchevel airport.
Heavy and mid-sized jets cannot land at Courchevel anyway. Even among light jets, a distinction is made between privately owned jets vs. private jets that are commercially chartered (I.e. commercially flown private jets).
Most of the aircraft landing at Courchevel Airport are privately owned jets, carrying the owner and family/friends, with limited provisions for carrying luggage onboard. Helicopter flights are also possible.
For commercially flown private jets, the DAGC rules are much stricter. To start with, the minimum landing distance required (LDR) for commercial jets is set at 1.6 times that of owner-operated private jets. This immediately causes a significant restriction in the types of aircraft that can be commercially chartered to fly into Courchevel.
The broad majority of direct flights are owner-operated aircraft, turboprops and helicopters. The Pilatus PC-12 turboprop is one of the most popular options among planes that are able to land and take off at Courchevel Altiport! Turboprop aircraft offer plenty of advantages, getting in and out of places like Courchevel is one of them.
The good news for ski enthusiasts looking to charter private jets to get to the Courchevel area is that there are four larger airports relatively nearby, including Chambery, Grenoble, Annecy, Lyon and Geneva. From there, there are multiple options to get to Courvechel Altiport. The most luxurious, and quickest option is to book a private helicopter flight into the area.
Other options include road transport (car, limo, bus or van), which will take the following amounts of time, depending on road conditions:
While the closest airports are Chambery and Annecy, there are fewer flights available to each of those airports. The same is true of Grenoble. For convenience and plenty of options, Lyon and Geneva would be the most popular bets.
While it may be difficult to fly a commercial charter directly into Courchevel Altiport, rest assured that there are many convenient and luxurious ways to travel to the area.
By traveling with a private jet or helicopter you will experience numerous advantages; no more queuing, skip waiting for luggage, arrive minutes prior to departure, and overall experience a tailor-made flight.
If you're planning your next Courchevel skiing trip, The Aviation Factory will help select an appropriate aircraft to make your trip as unforgettable and stress-free as possible. You can contact our private jet team anytime, 24/7!