Business Aviation Trip Planning Tips: Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is becoming an increasingly popular and busy destination for business aircraft travel. There are, however, assorted limitations and restrictions to consider when operating to this location. Both landing permits and airport slots are required, and extended parking may be difficult to obtain.
If you are planning a trip to Istanbul, the following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. There are two airport options for Istanbul
Choices for Istanbul include Ataturk (LTBA) and Sabiha Gokcen (LTFJ). Both are 24-hour Airports of Entry (AOEs) with 24-hour Customs, Immigrations, and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities for General Aviation (GA). LTBA is a 15-mile and approximately 30-minute drive to central Istanbul while LTFJ is a 22-mile and approximately one-hour drive to the city center. While LTFJ accepts all GA aircraft, LTBA (by regulation) does not officially accept charter (non-scheduled commercial) or cargo aircraft. Although charter flights are technically not accepted at LTBA, charter operators are often able to gain access at this location (although it’s not guaranteed). Note that LTBA has experienced significant traffic growth over the past few years.
2. Consider LTBA restrictions
Airport slots are required for LTBA and should be requested as soon as schedule is known. Slot deviation is +/- 20 minutes unless your flight time is eight hours or more, in which case deviation is +/- 30 minutes. Note that airport slot requests must be sent in Slot Clearance Request (SCR) format to the slot coordinator. Your ground handler can assist with these requests. LTBA does not normally permit overnight parking, but it may be approved on a case-by-case basis. Also by regulation LTBA cannot be used as a tech stop, but exceptions to this rule are possible. If a tech stop is permitted at LTBA, the turnaround time is approximately one hour. Note also that this airport may not be used as an alternate or customs stop without advance approval, which will be given on a case-by-case basis.
3. Know GAT procedures at LTBA
CIQ for corporate aircraft is done at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT). It’s recommended that you have your ground handler pre-fill out arrival/departure cards to expedite CIQ. Note that drive time from the international terminal to the GAT is 15-30 minutes. Planeside pick up/drop off is not permitted at LTBA unless the vehicle has a special registration plate for ramp access. If planeside service is needed, this must be requested in advance and will be at discretion of airport authorities to approve or disapprove. Hangar space is available at LTBA for transient aircraft up to the size of a Boeing BBJ or Airbus ACJ.
4. LTFJ is also a good option
LTFJ is a 24-hour AOE requiring airport slots for all operations. Slots must be requested in SCR format, via the slot coordinator, with airport slot deviation of -10/+20 minutes. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed for all aircraft traveling to LTFJ, and it must be requested at least 48 hours in advance. Hangar space is not available for transient operations at LTFJ. This airport, like LTBA, is very strict in terms of airport security.
5. Be aware of extended aircraft parking options
LTBA can be an issue for overnight or extended aircraft parking, so it’s always important to confirm options in advance with your ground handler. Parking at LTFJ is obtained via PPR with max stay of 24 hours. Parking beyond 24 hours depends on airport ramp availability and is approved at discretion of airport authorities.
6. Take into account visa considerations
Certain nationalities require passenger and crew visas for Turkey. Depending on your nationality, you may or may not be able to obtain a visa on arrival. If you’re considering obtaining a visa on arrival, check with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler in advance to ensure this will be possible.
7. Know Turkey landing permits and operating considerations
Note that landing permits are required for all stops, technical or final destination, in Turkey. (Note that there are some exceptions which we will cover in the following section.) Official permit lead time is five business days; however, short-notice requests are possible at the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA’s) discretion. Documents necessary for a landing permit request include:
- certificates of airworthiness and registration,
- noise certificate,
- air operator’s certificate, when applicable, and
- evidence of worldwide insurance.
8. Read the fine print on Turkey permits
Aircraft with capacity of up to 12 seats registered to European Civil Aviation Conference member states and making private non-revenue flights, business trips, air ambulance flights, or carrying relief assistance are permitted to overfly or land in Turkey without a permit, provided the operator has submitted a flight plan at least three hours prior to entering Turkish airspace. However, this regulation is not applicable for tech stops or for domestic flights within Turkey due to cabotage rules.
9. Be aware of other advance planning considerations
It’s best to make jet fuel, in-flight catering, and any special service requests at least 24-48 hours in advance. Short-notice requests could result in limited options. While local transport is up to operator preference, it’s best to utilize pre-paid (car with driver) transportation while in Turkey.
When you travel to Turkey, it’s always recommended that you stay in a 4- or 5-star hotel. There are many such options in Istanbul, including large international chains, to choose from.
Recently, the U.S. has issued several travel advisories for its citizens visiting Turkey. Because of this you should consider obtaining a current security intelligence report for the city, the airport, and your hotel. For more on this, read:
- Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 1: Pre-Planning
- Security Planning for Business Aviation Travel – Part 2: Vetting and Arranging for Security
While many official limitations exist in terms of permit lead times, airport use, and aircraft parking, there is some flexibility available – at discretion of airport authorities – if requests are made in advance. Istanbul airports are very secure, offer full aircraft service options, and are well served by local transport options and many 4- and 5-star crew accommodation possibilities.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance in planning your next trip to Istanbul, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.