Bizjet Ops to the Cape Verde Islands – Part 1: Top Tips & Considerations
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operations to the Cape Verde Islands.
The Cape Verde Islands, officially the Republic or Cabo Verde, is a collection of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. While the Cape Verde Islands are seldom destination stops, the strategic location of this island group offers attractive tech stop opportunities for business aircraft operators. Situated 350 miles off the coast of Senegal these islands are an effective fuel and crew rest stop option on flights between South America and Europe and from the US to southern Africa.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Available airports
The Cape Verdes has three airports of entry (AOE) – Sal Island (GVAC) and Praia (GVNP) and, by request, Sao Pedro (GVSV). Requests to use GVSV as an AOE should be submitted via your ground handler. Other non-AOEs with handling services available include Rabil (GVBA) and Preguica (GVSN). Sao Flipe (GVSF) can also be utilized by general aviation (GA). However, no handler is based at GVSF, and you’ll want to provide at least 48 hours advance notice to have a handler repositioned out to this airfield.
2. Hours of airport operation
Both GVAC and GVNP are 24 hour airports while the others have limited hours of operation. GVBA, for example, is operational 0800-1800 local. For the other airfields it’s best to confirm operating times, and overtime options, well before day of operation.
3. Available services
Support services for GA vary depending upon the airport. Full GA services, handling and fuel uplifts are available at GVAC 24/7. GVAC also has a good selection of ground support equipment (GSE) available from the handler. Service availability at other airports varies, so it’s best to confirm, in advance, that what you require is available. When operating to smaller island destinations it’s best to confirm credit arrangements in advance.
4. Preferred airport
GVAC, on Ilha do Sal, is the primary airport in the islands to service GA and international airline fights, and it has the longest runway at 10,734 feet. GVAC was one of the designated emergency landing strips for the US Space Shuttle. The first airport on Sal Island was built in 1939 by Italy as a fuel and provisions stop for DC-4 services between Rome and Buenos Aires. The Portuguese colonial government purchased the airport from Italian interests in 1950. Sal also has a selection of 4- and 5-star hotel options.
5. Aircraft parking
The Cape Verdes is mainly used for fuel stops, and overnight parking is seldom requested, other than for crew rest requirements. If overnight parking is needed always confirm in advance that this is available. Keep in mind that while GVAC is open 24/7, and offers full GA support services, overnight parking may be an issue at this location during certain times of the year.
6. Aviation fuel tips
Aviation fuel is available at most airports in the Cape Verdes, and fuel service hours mirror airport operating hours. It’s recommended to have a fuel release, arranged in advance, for any uplifts in the islands. A copy of the release should be given to both the crew and your ground handler.
7. Hangar availability
The only hangar available for transient GA in the islands is at GVAC. It’s not a large hangar – just 131 feet wide, 122 feet deep, and 32.8 feet in height. If hangar space is required this facility should be requested as early as possible. Other Cape Verde airports do not offer hangar facilities to GA.
8. Disinfecting aircraft
Prior to landing, preferably at top of descent, your aircraft cabin needs to be disinfected with an approved spray. This must be recorded in your general declaration and presented upon arrival. If this step is not accomplished you may disinfect the aircraft on arrival; however, this could cause delays and possible fines.
9. Onboard pets and guns
If you’re traveling with a pet be aware that Cape Verde does not quarantine healthy pets with veterinarian health certificates. Dogs, however, require an additional rabies inoculation certificate. While it’s not a requirement for the animal to carry an ISO pet microchip, we recommend that you microchip your pet prior to travel. For transiting operators with on-board guns/ammunition it’s important to confirm local reporting requirements well prior to day of operation.
10. Local area
The Cape Verdean island of Sal is a more than adequate venue for crew rest purposes. In addition to a wide range of international hotel chain options Sal offers average temperatures of 25 degrees °C, white sand beaches, and welcoming turquoise waters.
In most cases GA operators use the Cape Verdes just for tech stop purposes, and GVAC is the primary airport for this. If you’re planning to remain overnight it’s important to ensure that aircraft parking is available and confirmed.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the Cape Verde islands, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers more operational considerations for travel to the Cape Verde Islands.