6 Great Tech Stops in the Caribbean Region for Business Aviation – and Why
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on great technical stops for business aviation.
For business jet operators, Caribbean tech stops are among the fastest, easiest and most straightforward in the world. We hear of few operators not receiving quick and efficient turns within this region. While paperwork and advance notice requirements are minimal, it’s important to complete CARICOM (an APIS-like program requiring advance passenger information sent prior to departure) notification for many locations. Best practice is to avoid locations with shorter runways, non-24 hour operations, and those locations that may be congested during certain holiday periods.
1. What are 6 recommended locations for tech stops?
Depending on where you are operating, there may be many good locations for tech stops. These are the 6 we recommend.
The 6 recommended locations are:
- ✈ Bridgetown, Barbados (TBPB)
- ✈ Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (TTPP)
- ✈ Nassau, Bahamas (MYNN)
- ✈ Montego Bay, Jamaica (MKJS)
- ✈ San Juan, Puerto Rico (TJSJ)
- ✈ Oranjestad, Aruba (TNCA)
Great circle routing will impact your choice of tech stops, but there are several locations we recommend. Bridgetown, Barbados (TBPB) is a reliable 24-hour airport with full services, reasonable jet fuel prices, and quick turns. Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (TTPP) is an equally efficient airfield in the same general region. Nassau, Bahamas (MYNN), offers full services 24 hours and fixed base operators (FBOs) located close to the runway. Montego Bay, Jamaica (MKJS) is an easy tech stop and can work very well depending upon your itinerary. Oranjestad, Aruba (TNCA) is a 24-hour airport that offers full services and quick turnarounds for aircraft operating to and from South America. However, please note that they have a NOTAM closure all week between 0001-0700 local until the end of 2012, with some dates being exempted, so we recommend speaking to your 3rd-party provider to plan your stop accordingly. Lastly, in addition to a range of full services, San Juan, Puerto Rico (TJSJ) offers the unique advantage of clearing U.S. Customs when traveling northbound to the U.S. As a result, a Border Overflight Exemption (BOE) isn’t required for your next stop in the continental U.S. However, please note that an aircraft must clear customs in TJSJ when arriving from any non-U.S. location.
2. What is turnaround time for jet fuel uplifts at these locations?
Turnaround time at each location ranges from 30 to 60 minutes, so it’s best to arrange fuel in advance. If you’re trying to meet a deadline, and must turn your aircraft very quickly, notify your 3rd-party provider and / or local ground handler in advance. They’ll let you know what’s possible and help you avoid any potential peak times of the day. We had a recent case of a Dassault Falcon 900 in transit from Brazil to the U.S. East Coast that was turned at TBPB in just 30 minutes at 2 a.m. local time.
3. Are operators required to clear customs or have visas for international tech stops?
When arriving at TJSJ from a non-U.S. location, you’ll be required to pre-file eAPIS, have applicable visas (for non-U.S. nationals) and clear customs. No customs clearance will be required at the other locations during international tech stops, but visa verification will be required. At these locations your local ground handler will notify appropriate authorities of your arrival and submit the required information to them. CARICOM APIS information will be sent in advance to the other locations with exception of MYNN (which does not participate in the CARICOM program at this time) and TNCA as it’s not a CARICOM member.
4. What are the operating hours of each location?
All of the locations mentioned above offer 24-hour airport services. However, keep in mind that any arrival to TJSJ requires U.S. Customs clearance, and this is normally only available 8 a.m. – midnight, local time. TJSJ Customs may approve overtime, but these allowances are usually possible only for medical emergency flights and are on a case-by-case basis. We recommend that you work with your 3rd-party provider and know local regulations in advance.
5. Are airport slots, prior permissions required (PPRs), permits or advance notification required at these locations?
Airport slots or PPRs are not required at any of these locations when making international tech stops only. TBPB requires a landing permit for ambulance and commercial sized aircraft for tech stops. A TSA Waiver may be required for TJSJ (please verify requirements with your 3rd-party provider). TTPP doesn’t require landing permits for tech stops. However, if a charter (non-schedule commercial) flight remains overnight, a landing permit will be needed, for which a four-day lead time is required from CAA (approval at shorter notice is at the discretion of CAA). MYNN doesn’t require a landing permit for private non-revenue flights, but requires them for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations with a four-day lead time (CAA may approve it at shorter notice at their discretion). TNCA doesn’t require a landing permit for any flights except for ticketed flights (scheduled commercial flight) or air ambulance flights in which case the lead time for the permit is five working days. Also, no charter flights are allowed between Aruba and St. Maarten due to cabotage restrictions. eAPIS must be filed at least one hour pre-departure for international arrivals into TJSJ. CARICOM APIS notification is required at least 30 minutes pre-departure for all other locations, with the exception of MYNN and TNCA. There are no other official advance notification requirements for tech stops, but you’ll want to give your ground handler and jet fuel provider notification in advance of estimated arrival.
6. Can all services be arranged on credit?
All services can be arranged via credit arrangement or credit card. Also, aviation fuel cards are accepted for jet fuel uplifts. Please check with your 3rd-party provider to confirm which aviation fuel cards are accepted at each location.
7. Are there any potential problems operators should be aware of?
Jet fuel can be a potential factor in an operational delay anywhere you fly, but typically there are few fueling issues in this region. Always confirm in advance jet fuel availability and requested delivery time. Additionally, there may be weather considerations for this region during hurricane season.
Caribbean tech stops are destinations with quick turnarounds. If you’re flying northbound (to the U.S.), a tech stop at TJSJ with U.S. Customs clearance gives you the advantage of operating to your desired U.S. destination without a need to re-clear customs or have a BOE. Many considerations go into choosing a good tech stop. Work well in advance with your 3rd-party provider to make all the arrangements you require.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Christine Vamvakas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later, we’ll discuss great technical stops for business aviation in South America.