Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Airports and Services
This is a post by authors Stanley Joseph and Tigist Aberra. Stanley and Tigist work for Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (KALC), a subsidiary of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. which is headquartered in Mwanza, Tanzania. Stanley and Tigist are experts on permits and handling aircraft for the African region and can be contacted at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is the first part in a series on business aviation operations in Ethiopia.
Most general aviation (GA) operators heading to Ethiopia go to Addis Ababa (HAAB). While it’s fairly rare for operators to use other airports in the country, other good airfield options do exist. Be mindful, however, that service limitations and airport curfews must be considered for any operation other than to HAAB.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Popular airports for GA
The most popular airports in Ethiopia for GA are HAAB and Bahir Dar (HABD). HABD is primarily a tourism destination, with limited GA activity, while HAAB is where most flights land for business purposes.
2. Only one airport is open 24/7
HAAB is Ethiopia’s only 24/7 airport of entry (AOE). All other airports have operating curfews, and smaller airfields often close at 1800 local. They’ll normally shut down after scheduled commercial operations are over for the day. So it can be difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to plan operations after 1800 local. Should you wish to arrange airport overtime at smaller airports in Ethiopia it’s best to plan on at least one week’s prior notice lead time.
3. Airport overtime and noise information
Airport overtime is only possible if the local airport authority approves the request and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in turn, approves the required permits. Currently, there are no noise restrictions or curfews in place for operation to any location in Ethiopia. This policy, however, could change at a moment’s notice.
4. Aircraft parking may be a 10 min drive away
HAAB has a separate area for GA parking, and this is made up of 20-30 parking spots, depending upon size of aircraft. GA parking at HAAB is about a 10 minute drive from the main terminal. If this area is full, authorities usually permit GA aircraft to park on the commercial side of the field. For wide-body and large GA aircraft they’ll also be parked in the commercial area. Other airports in Ethiopia have no specific areas assigned to GA parking. At these airports you’ll typically be parked in a safe area well away from scheduled commercial arrivals/departures. Be aware that hangar space at Ethiopian airports is all operated by the government and usually only available for commercial airline use and maintenance purposes.
5. Peak hours of operation
Peak periods of commercial activity are only a factor at HAAB. Daily high traffic periods are usually 1000 – 1300 local. Commercial activity, however, seldom impacts GA operations or schedules.
6. Airport infrastructure
Condition of runways, taxiways and ramp areas at HAAB is very good, and there’s no airport construction taking place at this time. Be aware, however, that both Lalibella (HALL) and Arba Minch (HAAM) are both in need of runway/taxiway work. It’s recommended to avoid fuel uplifts on arrival at these locations, to avoid adding additional weight to your aircraft and additional loading on the runway/taxiway infrastructure.
7. Extended stay options
No airports in Ethiopia have prior permission required (PPR) mandates and/or airport slots. In most cases just a notification is needed, and parking will be confirmed with no restrictions in terms of length of stay. Once CAA has approved your landing permit the local airport authority usually approves whatever length of stay you request. However, during large local events parking can become an issue at HAAB. In this case, official parking requests must be submitted and approved in advance. The largest annual event with potential to cause parking and aircraft services issues is the African Union (AU) Summit which takes place January each year. The first session hosts Ministers for African countries while the second session is for African Presidents. The AU Summit goes on for just three days. However, during this period services such as fuel uplifts and catering may be delayed. During this event period operators should be mindful of airport congestion and be prepared to experience delays.
8. Airports in relation to city centers
HAAB is only about a five minute drive to the city center. Morning and afternoon rush hour conditions can cause this journey to be much longer. Most airports in Ethiopia are not more than a 15-40 minute drive from the center. Roughly 60% of airports in Ethiopia are located close to the town/city center while 40% are located farther out – up to 30 – 40 km from the central business district.
9. Special airport procedures
For all operations to Ethiopian airports the crew must sign the fight plan prior to departure. While your ground handler can extend credit for all fees and airport charges, airport authorities want the pilot in command (PIC) to personally sign the paperwork.
10. Notification to airport authorities
For all communications with Ethiopian airport authorities it’s best to use either phone of fax. Email is not the preferred means of communications with local airport authorities.
11. Aircraft service considerations
When operating to HAAB full support and ground support equipment (GSE) services are available 24/7. You’ll typically power in/power out from parking stands, and all services, including fuel uplifts, can be done at your parking location. At smaller airports, services and GSE availability are limited. So, it’s best to speak with your ground handler, well in advance of day of operation, to confirm GSE availability and service options at airports other than HAAB.
12. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
- Part 1 – Airports and services
- Part 2 – Ground handling
- Part 3 – Fuel and security
- Part 4 – Customs, immigration, and quarantine
- Part 5 – Permits
- Part 6 – Flight planning
- Part 7 – Hotels, local area and weather
HAAB is the only 24/7 airport in Ethiopia and the most popular destination for GA operators. Full services and parking is available at this destination. However, smaller airfields may have limited services and operating hours so it’s recommended that you speak to your 3rd-party provider or ground handler to confirm what is possible for your flight.
Later we’ll discuss ground handling for Ethiopia and their impact on your trip.