Abu Dhabi will be particularly busy during early March with the upcoming Yacht Show and Air Expo taking place March 1-5 and March 8-10, respectively. As general aviation (GA) traffic to the area will be elevated during this period, trip planning for these events should commence as early as possible.
The following is an overview of what you need to know if operating to Abu Dhabi during this time:
1. Primary airport
The preferred airport for the Yacht Show and Air Expo is Al Bateen (OMAD). This is a 24-hour joint civilian/military airport of entry (AOE) with full support services and no requirement for airport slots or prior permission requirements (PPRs). Note that this airfield only accepts aircraft up to the size of an Airbus 321 or Boeing 737, so you’ll have to land elsewhere with larger aircraft. It’s also important to keep in mind that there will be daily airport closures taking place during the Air Show period. Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA), the primary airport for scheduled commercial traffic, should be avoided by GA due to high traffic and congestion.
2. Parking at OMAD
Although parking at OMAD will be in high demand over this event period, we do not expect all available GA parking to run out. While some parking spots are located close to the terminal, most parking will be in an outlying area, requiring surface transport for passengers and crew to/from the terminal. When parking at OMAD, it’s advised to leave parking brakes off, in case the aircraft needs to be moved.
3. Alternate airports
Several 24-hour alternate airports are available in nearby emirates, including Al Ain (OMAL), Sharjah (OMSJ), and Dubai Intl (OMDB). OMAL and OMSJ have no slot or PPR requirements, but OMDB does mandate airport slots for all arrivals and departures.
4. OMDB slots
Slots for OMDB must be requested in SCR format with the following information provided:
- aircraft type and registration
- type of flight (private, charter, cargo, etc.)
- number of passengers
Be advised that slots may be difficult to obtain between 0800-2200 local which are peak hours for scheduled commercial activity. Slot validity is +/- 15 minutes, and failure to use an approved slot, or to operate outside of approved slot time, will result in a fine.
5. UAE landing permits
Each emirate has landing permit requirements in place, but associated requirements often differ, particularly in regards to documentation mandates. Some require simply an airworthiness certificate along with the permit application, while others, such as the emirate of Dubai, require registration and airworthiness certificates, noise certificate, and worldwide insurance to be provided with permit applications. For OMSJ you’ll need to provide airworthiness and registration, worldwide insurance, TCAS 7.1 documentation, and ACAS 2 version 7.0 documentation. If you’re operating a charter (non-scheduled commercial) you’ll likely, depending upon the emirate, also need to provide an air operator certificate (AOC). It’s always important to confirm all landing permit requirements in advance with your 3rd-party provider.
6. Permit lead times, validity and revisions
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) processes landing permit requests and officially requires four business days’ lead time. CAA’s normal work week is Sunday-Thursday, and it’s closed on weekends which are Friday and Saturday. Short notice permit applications, and applications outside of normal CAA hours, are possible for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) destinations, but only at CAA’s discretion. Once a permit is approved it’s valid for +72 hours. Permit revisions are needed for operation outside the validity window, but these revisions can normally be processed in about one hour. A change to the aircraft tail number involves a new permit request, and destination changes may require a new permit, depending upon the emirate.
7. Visa requirements
Crews, regardless of nationality, do not require visas for up to seven days stay in the emirates. However, certain nationalities of passengers require visas for the UAE. While it’s recommended that passengers requiring visas obtain them in advance, it’s possible to obtain visas upon arrival. Note that passengers need at least three months remaining validity on their passports when entering the UAE.
8. Hotels and local transport
Preferred hotels in Abu Dhabi will be in high demand for these events. Hotels close to the airport will fill up fast for the Air Show, and properties in the Yas Marina area are likely to fill up for the Yacht Show. Expect higher than normal hotel pricing and extended cancellation policies. For local transport, prepaid options (car with driver) are recommended and should be set up at least one day in advance. As we get closer to the events, it’s likely that certain preferred vehicle types will become unavailable. It’s recommended to avoid vehicle rental options unless you’re familiar with the area, as finding parking may be an issue.
9. Operating tips
Catering should always be requested at least 24 hours in advance, with a minimum of 48 hours notification for special catering requests. When landing in the UAE all onboard alcohol should remain locked onboard the aircraft. Although the UAE is a much more open society than many of the neighboring countries, it’s recommended to dress conservatively and to be both mindful and respectful of local customs and religion.
10. More information
For additional information on the Abu Dhabi Air Show – with its anticipated 195 exhibitors and 110 aircraft on static display – visit the official website.
For operations to Abu Dhabi for the 2016 air and yacht shows, it’s important to submit requests for permits, parking, support services, and crew accommodation as soon as schedule is known. If GA parking at OMAD becomes unavailable you may need to reposition your aircraft to a nearby emirate.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UAE, contact me at email@example.com.
About Paul Kistler
Senior Mission Advisor Paul Kistler has been in the aviation industry for more than 13 years. He has wide-ranging expertise in advising and supporting clients on operations to all corners of the world. Paul also enjoys the process of putting together seamless operations to Latin America, Russia, Asia and Africa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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