7 Things to Pay Attention to When Arranging Auxiliary Services in India
This aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to India and continues from our last post “What You Need to Know About Ground Handling and Aircraft Fueling in India“.
For business-aviation operators, airports in India are generally safe, with very strict security procedures in place. Nonetheless, this is an area of the world where you’ll want to consider security for off-airport activities. Pre-arranging ground transport is essential in this part of the world, and a 3rd-party provider is able to do this for you. At major airfields, catering is not an issue. However, at smaller remote or military airfields, you may have to get catering from your hotel. The following is an overview of recommended actions you need to take when planning to travel to India:
1. Secure your aircraft
General airport security is very good in India. The Central Industrial Security Force, with the guidance of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), is responsible for airport security. They provide round-the-clock security at all airports in India, thus creating a safer aviation environment. However, there is still a provision for aircraft guarding, which is provided by either the airport operators or Air India.
Just a few years ago, an unarmed security guard was able to identify the tail number of an aircraft that clipped the wing of the aircraft he was guarding. Without this eye-witness account, the owner of the aircraft would have had to pay for all the expensive repairs. Experienced security companies often have very good contracts throughout India and can arrange at many stops full-time aircraft security that can prevent these types of situations.
2. Understand security threats at destinations
An experienced 3rd-party provider can help you in pre-screening security threats at destinations. Ever since the coordinated series of attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 killed more than 160 people, visitors to India have been on a higher level of alert. Although long-time rivals India and Pakistan have once again initiated peace talks, which had broken off after the 2008 attacks, security remains a big issue in India. Make a point of being aware of your surroundings and always assess threats and security needs.
3. Use only known and pre-arranged ground transport
When setting up transportation for passengers and crew, ensure that it’s through a vetted company and for all destinations in India. This can be set up through professional local transport services at all locations throughout the country.
4. Allow time for additional security requirements at military airfields
Airports such as Agra (VIAG) that are controlled by the military have additional security procedures and requirements both pre-trip and during active operations. Assembling the required documentation can be an extended process. You will need to provide authorities with detailed information, such as your mother’s maiden name and father’s place of birth. Therefore, we find it best that this information be given in advance in order to avoid delays. The BCAS, headquartered in Delhi, is very particular about who flies in and out of India – and particularly to military-controlled airfields.
5. Be aware of in-flight catering limitations
While all forms of Western-style and higher-end in-flight catering will be available at major destinations, in-flight catering options will be more limited at secondary locations. At some military and more remote airfields, you may need to source in-flight catering off-airport – either from your hotel or a trusted restaurant. The formalities of having off-airport in-flight catering delivered through security and to your aircraft will require careful coordination with your local ground handler. Be aware that cows are considered sacred in India, so don’t expect beef, or beef burgers, to be on the menu.
6. Budget extra time if you need to return to your aircraft
Be sure to take everything you’ll need out of the aircraft prior to clearing customs, immigration and quarantine on arrival. Your aircraft will be sealed by customs after you clear. The process to return to your aircraft prior to your scheduled departure date can be time-consuming.
7. Arrange your services on credit
Assuming you’ve made prior arrangements, all local ground transportation, security and in-flight catering services within India will be looked after by the local ground handler and 3rd-party provider. There’s no need to carry cash for any of these arrangements, and, if credit has been arranged, invoices will all be settled prior to your departure. Always review and double-check invoices with your ground handler prior to departure.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Christine Vamvakas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later, we’ll discuss navigating local culture in India.