Kuwait is primarily a business aircraft destination rather than a tech stop. This region is somewhat less strict, in terms of operating requirements and cultural norms, than some other locations in the area. Still, there are operating considerations to keep in mind and issues that have the potential to compromise your trips, without careful advance planning.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Only one practical airport option
The only airport in Kuwait available for General Aviation (GA) is Kuwait Intl (OKBK). OKBK is an airport of entry with full aircraft services and credit available with prior notice. Kuwait’s military airport, OKAJ, is not available to GA. The only exception is for diplomatic flights with prior arrangement. While OKBK is seldom used as a tech stop – due to its position in the region and great circle considerations – it makes an excellent alternate or emergency diversion point. For example if you’re an N-registered operator overflying Iran, OKBK should be one of your preferred diversion options.
2. Kuwait overflight and landing permits
Landing permits are needed for all operations to Kuwait. Overflight permits, however, are required only for overflight of the Kuwait landmass. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officially requires 96 hours to process landing permits and will seldom approve permits with less than 48 hours’ notice. CAA operating hours are Sunday-Thursday, 0800-1300 local, and the office is closed during public holidays. However, it may be possible to arrange urgent permit requests during hours that CAA is closed. When you operate to OKBK, your parking slot must be confirmed prior to a landing permit being approved. CAA will check with the ground handler to ensure you have a parking slot before processing your landing permit
3. Permit validity/revisions
Permits for Kuwait are valid for the Zulu day. While CAA must be advised of any changes to the schedule, permit revisions are only necessary in certain cases. Some revisions require a revised permit request, while others are notification-only. For example a change in airport of origin requires a new permit number, while a crew or passenger change or a schedule change within the Zulu date are usually a notification-only. Kuwait landing permits are always tied to parking slots. If parking slots are unavailable, your landing permit will be denied.
4. CIQ considerations
Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) is usually cleared within the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), which is operated by Royal Aviation. Upon landing, you’ll taxi to the GAT, and your ground handler will escort passengers/crew for clearance. If you wish to park at the Royal gate, a request needs to be included in your landing permit application, and additional charges are applicable. It’s usually not necessary to have a tow bar onboard as OKBK is well equipped with both towbars and ground support equipment. Crew members should always display valid crew IDs while on the ramp. Be aware that, if you forget something onboard, it can be a somewhat complex process re-gaining access to your aircraft prior to day of departure.
5. Israel flight restrictions
No operation will be permitted to/from Israel. Also, when you land in Kuwait, it’s best to avoid having any Israeli CIQ stamps in either crew or passenger passports.
6. Local business contact requirement
When you apply for a Kuwait landing permit, it’s necessary to provide a local business contact. While a "sponsor letter" is not needed for this country, operators must provide full details of the local business contact in Kuwait. Authorities will contact this source.
7. Documentation requirements
Upon arrival in Kuwait, you may be asked to present all aircraft/crew documents for review. This usually includes certificates of registration and airworthiness, the radio license for the aircraft, air operator certificate for charter flights, TCAS II certificate, RVSM certificate, and B-RNAV certificate. Kuwait requires operators to carry war risk liability insurance, regardless of the type of flight. Be aware, also, that there’s a regulation in Kuwait for charter operators stipulating that the pilot in command may not be over 60 years of age.
8. Visa requirements
Crew members, regardless of nationality, do not require visas for Kuwait as long as they’re listed on the gen dec for stays of up to 72 hours. If crew members plan to stay in Kuwait longer than about 72 hours, however, they may need visas. All passengers must have valid visas for Kuwait. Visas may be obtained on arrival for many nationalities, but it’s always best to re-confirm requirements with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler. In some cases, depending on nationality, passengers must obtain Kuwait visas prior to arrival.
9. Provide additional notice for fuel and aircraft services
Due to potential fuel delivery delays, it’s best to arrange a fuel release at least 24 hours in advance. Many operators prefer to fuel on arrival in Kuwait in order to avoid possible delays on the day of departure. Always provide at least 24-48 hours’ advance notification for in-flight catering. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (June 17-July 17 for 2015), additional lead time should be provided for catering orders. Turnaround times at OKBK are often longer during holiday periods such as Ramadan.
While hotel options are somewhat limited for Kuwait, 4- and 5-star crew accommodations – including international hotel chains – are available.
11. Ground transportation
It’s best to avoid public taxis. Have your 3rd-party provider or ground handler arrange vetted pre-paid (car with driver) transportation.
12. Security and cultural considerations
Security is a consideration in Kuwait – due mostly to security issues in surrounding countries. It’s best to obtain a current security brief for the airport and area and to be conscious of security while on the ground. As always – and particularly when traveling to the Middle East – be aware of local cultural norms, and dress/act conservatively. Alcohol is not permitted into the country, and airport authorities will "seal" your aircraft bar to ensure it’s not opened while on the ground. Keep in mind that weekends for Kuwait are Friday and Saturday.
For more on security planning, read:
- Security Threat Assessments for Business Aviation – Part 1: General Tips
- Security Threat Assessments for Business Aviation – Part 2: Categories of Assessments
- Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 1: Pre-Planning
- Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 2: Vetting and Arranging for Security
When operating to Kuwait, allow additional time for aircraft services/logistics and fuel uplifts. Ensure all required documentation is onboard and ready for review by airport authorities. Consider security for your aircraft, act conservatively, and respect local cultural differences.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Kuwait, contact me at email@example.com.
Category : Best Practice
About Keith Foreman
With more than two decades of experience at Universal and even more as an air traffic controller in the United States Air Force, Master Trip Owner Keith Foreman has extensive experience in business aviation operations. Keith, who has facilitated more than 19,000 trip legs, is also an expert on the Middle East, having lived in the region for several years. Keith’s reputation and knowledge have earned the praise of industry associations such as the National Business Aviation Association, where he is regularly asked to give presentations on regional operational issues in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Keith, who has an associate’s degree in aeronautical science, is also frequently interviewed in a variety of industry publications both domestically and internationally. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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