This year’s Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix takes place April 1 – 3 at the Sakhir Circuit, the only true desert race track in the Formula One calendar. This modern facility, completely surrounded by sand, is a unique setting for a very popular event. We recommend that general aviation (GA) operators planning to attend the Bahrain Grand Prix begin confirming trip arrangements as early as possible.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airport
Primary airport for this event is Bahrain (OBBI). This is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with full GA support services and plenty of available parking. While airport slots are not needed for this location, prior permission required (PPR) is a regulatory mandate. PPRs are valid for 24 hours, and a permit confirmation number is provided. While it’s not a requirement to bring a tow bar to OBBI, and most parking stands are power in/power out, it’s always best to check with your ground handler in advance on any ground support equipment (GSE) that may be needed for your particular aircraft.
2. Services at OBBI
Full GA support services–as well as credit for services, handling, and airport fees–are available at OBBI. Your ground handler will be able to assist with any additional service requests, such as fuel uplifts, in-flight catering, aircraft security, local transport, and crew accommodations. For in-flight catering requests it’s best to provide at least 48 hours advance notice.
3. Alternate airports
No alternate airports are available within Bahrain, with the exception of military airports requiring diplomatic clearance. Closest civilian airport to OBBI is Dammam (OEDF) in Saudi Arabia. This is an AOE, and it’s about a 30 – 60 minute drive from Bahrain. Be mindful that to land in Saudi Arabia you’ll require a landing permit, with three days lead time, along with permit documentation and a business sponsor.
4. Bahrain landing permits
Landing permits are required for all private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations to Bahrain. Official permit request lead time is 48 hours, but short notice requests are possible, at Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA’s) discretion. We recommend, when possible, allowing four business days to obtain permit confirmations. CAA operating hours are Sunday – Thursday 0900-1600 local with no permits processed on Friday or Saturday.
5. Documentation and information
While there are no advance documentation requirements for Bahrain permits, operators must provide the following with any permit request:
- operator name
- aircraft type, registration and maximum takeoff weight (MTOW)
- schedule (including origin, destination and date of flight)
- call sign (if applicable)
- name of lead passenger along with number of passengers and their names/nationalities
- business contact information and an explanation of purpose of flight
Note that a valid copy of worldwide insurance must be carried onboard the aircraft. For any operation to OBBI, the MTOW submitted with your permit request must match the MTOW on the airworthiness certificate.
6. Permit validity and revisions
Bahrain permits are valid for the entire Zulu day with revisions needed for date changes, routing changes, or changes to aircraft type or registration. While permit revisions can often be processed on shorter notice, it’s always best to allow 24 hours for revision requests.
7. Access restrictions
Note that private and charter flights from Iraq and Israel are prohibited from entering Bahrain. Overflight of Bahrain by Israeli made aircraft may be permitted, on a case-by-case basis, so long as the aircraft is not registered to Israel and no Israeli passengers or crew are onboard. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the operator is not on the Bahrain Banned Operator List, as published on CAA’s website.
8. CIQ clearance
For all private and charter flights we recommend using the VIP terminal at OBBI. Passengers will be transported to the gate of this facility by the ground handler where they’ll clear customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) privately without the need to stand in line with scheduled commercial passengers. This service is available at an additional charge and with advance arrangement. Depending upon the nationality of passengers and crew, visas may be required, and they may or may not be possible to obtain upon arrival. Therefore, it’s always important to confirm any visa requirements with your 3rd-party provider in advance. Be aware that Bahrain customs authorities strictly enforce regulations on the importation/exportation of weapons and any materials that may be considered inappropriate. Also, it’s important that any alcohol products remain locked onboard the aircraft.
9. Hotels and local transport
For the best and most preferred hotel options it’s recommended that accommodations for the Bahrain Grand Prix period be booked as early as possible. While there are a few hotels available close to the race circuit, most hotel options are about 30 minutes away in the city center. Choices for local travel include prepaid transport (car with driver), vetted public taxis, and hotel-provided transportation. Hotels in Bahrain often provide transport between the airport and hotel and may even offer transport to the Sakhir Circuit during the Grand Prix period.
10. Additional information
For more information on the 2016 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix see the official website.
Although we do not anticipate issues with GA parking availability during the Grand Prix period, preferred hotel availability may be an issue. To avoid the potential for any last minute issues, it’s recommended that crew accommodations be confirmed as early as possible. Also, ensure that you allow yourself enough time to obtain the landing permit and confirm any visa requirements for your flight.
Universal and Universal Aviation are not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX, and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing B.V.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Bahrain, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Cody Coe
Cody Coe joined Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. in 2004, and has since established himself as an expert on international operations for both business jets and helicopters, specializing in ops to Venezuela and Fiji, among other locations. Cody currently serves as a trip owner on the Bravo Team. He is also an expert in hotel accommodations, having previously served on the Universal Hotels Team. You can reach Cody at email@example.com.
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