Caribbean Peak Season Bizjet Travel – Part 2: Permits, Slots, CIQ, Hotels, Security & More
This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week entitled “Caribbean Peak Season Bizjet Travel – Part 1: Airports, Parking, & Ground Handling.”
With the exception of Cuba, the Caribbean, for the most part, has few requirements for permits, airport slots or prior permission required (PPRs) making operating in this region more user friendly than in many other parts of the world. Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ), security, and other planning considerations are pretty straightforward with advanced planning. Hotels, on the other hand, can easily sell out or get extremely pricey.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
No overflight permits are required in this region, other than for Cuba and for Central American countries bordering the Caribbean. Official lead time for Cuban overflight permits is four business days, but these can usually be processed the same day. Both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations require Cuba landing permits, with official lead time of five business days. For the latest information on travel to Cuba including permit requirements, please see our latest articles on this blog. Certain Caribbean locations mandate landing permits for charter, with typical lead time of four to five business days and only standard aircraft documentation required.
CIQ is normally cleared within the main terminal, unless a fixed-base operator (FBO) with CIQ facilities is available. Clearance times are normally under 15-20 minutes unless the terminal is very congested. For return to the U.S., CIQ pre-clearance is available at St. Thomas (TIST), St. Croix (TISX) and Aruba (TNCA) with pre-notification and during specified hours. However, these options are not used frequently as many operators find it just as easy, or easier, to clear stateside.
3. Agriculture requirements
At most island airports you’ll need to dispose of any open catering upon arrival, except in the case of international tech stops. There may be options at some locations to store onboard catering with your ground handler, but this must be confirmed in advance and depends on appropriate storage facilities being available.
4. Hotel options
Crew accommodation options routinely run out at popular island destinations during peak season. This is particular true for short notice operations or in the case of short notice schedule changes. Crew accommodations, if you can find them, can run from 300 to over 800 USD/night with cancellation policies more stringent during high season, often with no option to refund bookings. When arranging high season crew accommodations it’s important to book early, understand the cancellation policy, and have contingency options ready. In some cases, crew may be able to take an inter-island flight, or boat, to a nearby island where accommodations may be available.
5. Local transport
Depending on the distance of the hotel from the airport, crew may be able to use ground handler transport or hotel shuttles to reach their destination. Pre-paid transport (car with driver), rental cars and public taxis are also viable and safe options in the islands. However, be aware that preferred suppliers and vehicle types may be in short supply. And, on smaller Caribbean islands there may be very few local transport choices available.
6. Security considerations
Airport security at larger airports in this region is adequate, and it’s rare for operators to request dedicated aircraft guards. Additional caution is advised, however, at certain smaller airports as there may not be 24 hour airport security or surveillance. If an aircraft guard is desired this can be arranged at most island destinations, with advance notification. While this region is relatively safe in terms of off airport security, there are higher threat areas to be aware of—your ground handler can provide guidance here.
7. Traveling with pets and weapons
It’s generally not an issue to travel with a pet, so long as the animal has proper health and immunization records, and its arrival has been pre-notified. Some islands, particularly former British islands such as Barbados, have more stringent requirements in terms of temporary pet importation. It’s best to review all applicable requirements well in advance of day of operation if you’re traveling with a personal animal companion.
Hurricane season runs from early June through late October and does not usually affect peak season operations. During the high season there are few weather challenges or issues impacting this part of the world.
For any short notice or last minute trip to the Caribbean during peak season top considerations are securing parking (covered in part 1 of this article series) and crew accommodations. As it may not always be possible to obtain parking and accommodations at certain island during peak season operators should have contingency plans in place and be prepared to reposition. Consider permit requirements for charter operators and appropriate lead time.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the Caribbean, contact me at email@example.com.