10 Key Pre-Trip Airport Operations Considerations for India

PT 4 M minute read

This business aviation blog post is the first part in a series on operating to India.

Airports in India continue to improve for the business aviation user. Public-private partnerships are now considering developing current and future airfields throughout India over the coming years, and this bodes well for General Aviation (GA). There are close to 400 inactive airports in India – from British colonial days – which, although presently unused, may be developed and re-activated. For well-prepared operators using experienced 3rd-party providers, operating to active airports in India is generally straightforward. Nonetheless, there are still several unique characteristics to consider.

The Top-10 airports in India for business-aviation traffic in 2011
Information is current as of November 2011.
Source: Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.

1. Additional lead time will be required when visiting military airports

All military airports, including Agra, India (VIAG), require 30 days’ notice to obtain a landing clearance. Although the minimum time period for setting up a landing permit for a military airfield is 30 days, we find it best practice to begin the permit process about 45 days in advance. Furthermore, additional information for crew and passengers – such as the fathers’ names of every person onboard – will be required for the permit request. It is also important to note that any flight to a military airport delayed by more than one hour from its approved time must receive a new clearance. No revision to the approved timing at military airports is allowed.

The Top-5 military airports in India for business-aviation traffic in 2011
Information is current as of November 2011.
Source: Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
VIAGKHERIA (AGRA) Taj MahalTaj Mahal

2. A ground handling agent should to be positioned at remote or military airfields

To ensure everything is in order, it is recommended that a handling agent be present on the day of your operation to review all documentation and supervise the flight. Repositioning a handling agent to the airfield 24 hours prior to arrival or departure is best for ensuring a smooth operation, as he or she will be available to assist you with all your requests.

3. Don’t be surprised if you clear customs, immigration and quarantine in the main airline terminal

At most locations in India, you’ll clear Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) in the main terminal. An experienced ground handler will, however, be able to streamline this process with a dedicated customs clearance line.

4. Visa requirements need to be verified

With the exception of nationals of Nepal and Bhutan, visas are mandatory for all crew members and passengers. Visas on arrival can be arranged for nationals of Finland, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Laos. For all other nationals, a visa on arrival is at the discretion of the immigration authorities. However, visas on arrival for nationals of Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are restricted. Please check with your visa provider for up-to-date information, as these requirements can change at a moment’s notice.

For the latest information on crew visa requirements, please see our article titled "Obtaining Crew Visas and Temporary Landing Permits for India – Process Has Been Streamlined."

5. Customs will tax you on remaining jet fuel if your next flight leg is domestic

Tankering jet fuel is considered a revenue loss to the country. That means that if your next leg is domestic, you will be charged for any jet fuel remaining on your aircraft. This tax is considered a sales tax and must be paid to local customs. Please note that this tax isn’t applicable to international legs (i.e., technical stops). However, in the case of international flights, you must prove to the customs inspector that your next leg is international in order to avoid this tax.

6. Reconfirming jet fuel uplifts is a must

For most aircrafts, lavatory and water service is generally done on arrival, with fueling on departure. There can be delays with fuel trucks due to commercial traffic they are servicing, and you can’t always guarantee they will arrive on time for departure, so fueling is recommended on arrival. Work closely with your local ground handler to reconfirm all fuel deliveries in advance.

7. Jet fuel taxes vary from airport to airport

While the base price of jet fuel is generally constant across India, fuel uplift taxes vary among India’s 26 states. Some states charge 5% on top of all government taxes, while others charge as much as 20-28% on top of other taxes. Please take this into consideration for your travels to India.

Larger airports in India have GA operating curfews

Currently, only VABB has daily operating curfews in effect for GA movements, which may restrict your operations. (In addition to VABB, there are other airports that have GA curfews, but not on a daily basis.) In some cases, you may have to land and take off during certain hours outside peak airline activity. In the future, because of increasing volumes of commercial traffic, curfew hours may be extended.

9. Beware of aircraft parking fees in India

Parking a corporate aircraft in India can accrue additional costs. Parking charges are based on aircraft weight and currently run 8 Rupees per ton per hour (or about $158 per day) to park a Gulfstream G450. Of course, these charges are subject to change by airport authorities.

10. Vehicles are not permitted on the ramp

In India, unless your flight is carrying government or diplomatic officials, vehicles are not permitted on the ramp. The ground handler will come out and drive passengers to the terminal to clear CIQ and board local transport curbside. The ground handler then comes back for the crew and goes through a similar process. You’ll typically use the same CIQ lines as airline passengers, but the ground handler will try to expedite this service for his or her customers.


If you have any questions about this article, contact Christine Vamvakas at christinevamvakas@univ-wea.com.

Later we’ll discuss guidelines for flight planning your way through India.

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