This year’s Summit on the Global Agenda, part of the World Economic Forum (WEF), takes place November 18-20 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Known as the world’s largest brainstorming event, the WEF will provide comprehensive insights and recommendations on some of the most pressing global challenges. For business aircraft operators, it’s important to arrange landing permits, aircraft parking and hotel accommodations as soon as possible – particularly as the Dubai Airshow runs almost concurrent to the WEF.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Expect higher-than-normal traffic to the area
As the Dubai Airshow takes place November 17-21, there will be increased competition for aircraft parking and services during the WEF timeframe. Although the Dubai Airshow venue is at Al Maktoum Int.’l (OMDW), some operators will use OMAA and OMAD as aircraft parking alternates – adding to local parking congestion.
2. Primary airport for WEF is Abu Dhabi Int.’l
Abu Dhabi Int.’l (OMAA) is an Airport of Entry (AOE) with 24-hour Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance, full aircraft services/support and fuel availability. No airport slots, Prior Permission Required (PPR) or mandatory ports of departure are required for OMAA. Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) may offer CIQ clearance within their facilities; however, some ground handlers use the general aviation terminal (GAT) for clearance. For flights pre-approved as VVIP operations, it may be possible to arrange onboard clearance. These arrangements, however, should be confirmed with your ground handler in advance. Depending on your passenger load, it may be advisable to pre-confirm that there will be no limitation on the number of passengers that may be cleared at your chosen FBO.
3. Alternate airports include Al Bateen and Al Ayn
Al Bateen (OMAD), a joint-use military/civil airport, is located just 10 miles from the Abu Dhabi city center and is a 24-hour AOE with full services and credit. Note that a PPR is needed for all operations to OMAD, and your full schedule must be provided for the PPR approval. Lead time for the PPR at OMAD is four to five business days. Note that OMAD will only accept aircraft up to the size of an ACJ or BBJ due to surface bearing strength and fire category. Al Ayn (OMAL) is a 24-hour AOE that, at this time, does not require airport slots or a PPR. Aircraft parking at this location is plentiful.
4. UAE landing permits
Landing permits are required for all general aviation operations to UAE, and lead time is four business days. Short-notice requests are possible at the discretion of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Permit documentation depends on the Emirate you’re operating to. You’ll normally need to present airworthiness and registration certificates, worldwide insurance, radio license, ACAS II and TCAS and – in the case of charter (non-scheduled commercial) – an air operator certificate (AOC). UAE landing permit requests are processed by CAA and valid for +/- 72 hours. Normal CAA operating hours are Saturday-Wednesday, 0900-1700 local. CAA is closed on the weekend, which is Thursday and Friday for the UAE. In emergencies, but not for short-notice permit requests, operators may contact ATC directly. Plan on at least 48 hours’ notice for permit revisions as a result of changes to crew, passengers or schedule.
5. Jet fuel considerations
While major aviation fuel cards are accepted at OMAA and other UAE airports, fuel releases are recommended – especially during high-traffic periods. For all fuel uplifts, it’s best to provide at least 24 hours’ advance notification.
6. Crew visa requirements
The UAE does not require visas for most crewmembers for stays of up to seven days. It’s necessary, however, that crew be in uniform, have crew IDs with expiry dates and be listed on the GEN DEC. Always confirm crew visa requirements with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler in advance.
7. Passenger visa requirements
All passengers to the UAE must have visas prior to landing unless they’re nationals of the countries listed below. Nationals of these countries will be issued visas on arrival – valid for stays of up to 30 days:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S. and the Vatican.
8. Be aware of insurance requirements
All operators to the UAE must carry valid liability insurance with minimum coverage of 250,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger and 1,000 SDRs for each piece of baggage. Your insurance document must be submitted along with your landing permit request. A copy of this document needs to be carried onboard at all times.
9. UAE airports are secure
OMAA, OMAD and OMAL are secure, low-threat, airports. Airport fencing is adequate, the airfields are well patrolled, and cameras monitor ramp areas. Additional security – including 24-hour aircraft guards – can be arranged with advance notification. It’s best to confirm in advance if armed or unarmed security officers are permitted airside.
10. Other considerations for Abu Dhabi
Be aware that preferred hotel accommodations may be sold out, or more expensive than usual, during the WEF period. It’s important to book hotel rooms as early as possible. There may be extended cancellation policies in effect, especially considering the concurrent Dubai Airshow. For local ground transport, crew may consider prepaid (car with driver) transport or taxis. If you’re using public taxis, it’s best to book these via your hotel or ground handler. Be sure to check, in advance, on what is accepted attire for this country. While the UAE is a more open society compared to other countries in the region, it’s always best to dress and act conservatively.
Due to high traffic and hotel demand in Abu Dhabi during the 2013 WEF and Dubai Airshow period, it’s particularly important to plan in advance. Begin working with your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler as soon as schedule is known. Always ensure that visa requirements are confirmed as early as possible.
If you have any questions about this article or operating to the Middle East, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hassan Hilliard
Hassan Hilliard is an expert in facilitating trips for global charter operations. Hassan, who has been with Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. since 2007, currently serves as a senior trip owner on the Charter Management Orange Team. Prior to joining Universal, Hassan worked at two different FBOs, where he gained expertise on short-notice ground handling and permits. Hassan has first-hand knowledge of the Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore airport/FBO systems through his time spent on-ground in South Asia assisting our Asia-Pacific Operations Center. Another of Hassan’s areas of expertise is using his knowledge to help clients determine trip and itinerary feasibility. Hassan can be reached at email@example.com.
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