Business Aircraft Operation to Guam – Tips and Best Practices
Guam, the largest island in Micronesia, is an organized unincorporated territory of the U.S. and one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Business aircraft operators planning to fly to Guam need to be aware of certain operating considerations and paperwork requirements in order to ensure a smooth mission to this location.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Guam has one airport of entry
There are two airports on Guam: Agana (PGUM) and Andersen (PGUA). Note that PGUA is an air force base, not an Airport of Entry (AOE), and you must have appropriate permission – such as for a diplomatic or U.S. military flight – to travel to this location. PGUM, a 24-hour AOE, is the primary choice for all general aviation operations to Guam. This airfield is located six miles from the capital Hagatna (formerly "Agana") and the main hotel area. PGUM offers 24/7 customs availability with advance notification, as well as full ground handling, support services, and credit. Ground support equipment is on hand at PGUM, and both aircraft parking and jet fuel are readily available.
2. Landing permits are required for Guam
All aircraft – both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) – require landing permits for Guam. Three days’ minimum lead time is necessary for Guam permits, but seven days is recommended, due to documentation requirements. Short-notice permit requests may be possible at the discretion of airport authorities. Permits may be requested directly from the PGUM airport authority or via your 3rd-party provider. Normally, a permit must be obtained for each operation to Guam, unless you’re a "signatory carrier" and have obtained an annual landing permit.
3. Know landing permit validity
Landing permits are only approved for the scheduled time submitted. For N-registered aircraft, you’ll just receive a confirmation stating that the permit has been granted. All other registries will receive a permit confirmation number that must be noted in remarks section 18 of International Civil Aviation Organization flight plans. Any changes to one-shot permits require a permit revision.
4. Double-check documentation requirements
On landing be sure to have all required aircraft documentation onboard. Necessary documentation includes registration and airworthiness certificates, 3rd-party insurance including "tenant and use insurance," a waiver of subrogation endorsement, and the complete schedule. APIS must be submitted for all travel to/from Guam regardless if you’re operating to/from the US.
5. CIQ considerations
All inbound flights to Guam must clear Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) on landing regardless of prior point of departure. For aircraft arriving from the U.S., authorities require only customs and agriculture inspections and not immigration inspections. CIQ clearance must be arranged and confirmed in advance. Upon landing you park in the CIQ clearance area and must keep all door and windows closed until an agent comes to the aircraft and instructs you to open the door. Once doors are open, passengers and crew members proceed to the general aviation terminal for clearance. Once clearance is completed, the aircraft may proceed to the designated parking spot. Note that if you arrive from the U.S. and get off the aircraft without the agent’s approval, all passengers/crew will be required to clear immigration. Planeside CIQ is not an option on Guam.
6. Be aware of agriculture regulations
During tech stops at Guam, you may be permitted to keep catering onboard but only if it’s properly sealed. All open catering items must be double-bagged on landing, and wet and dry items must be separated. Note that there are several agricultural items that are not permitted onto the island, so it’s best to check in advance with your ground handler to ensure there are not any issues.
7. In-flight catering options
An in-flight cater is available at PGUM, and this is your best option in terms of organizing meal deliveries directly to your aircraft. Best practice is to provide 24-48 hours’ prior notice for catering requests – particularly when trying to source items that are not common locally. Some crews choose to cater directly from hotels and local restaurants while on Guam. Be sure that the hotel/restaurant is aware of packaging requirements for your particular galley configuration and that food items have been cooled to food-safe temperatures prior to pick up.
8. Tech stop considerations
For a Guam tech stop, you’ll need a landing permit – with three to seven days’ advance notification – and must clear CIQ upon landing. Plan on approximately one hour to clear CIQ at PGUM. Depending on proposed ETA, CIQ may request that you arrive at a different time – based on anticipated traffic flows for the particular day. Due to traffic volumes, permit requirements, and CIQ procedures at PGUM, this location is not an ideal tech stop. A better tech stop option is Saipan (PGSN), where the CIQ process is streamlined, and quick turns can be accomplished in 30-45 minutes on the ground. This was discussed previously in an article by Jason Smith, 5 Great Tech Stops in Australia and the Pacific Islands for Business Aviation – and Why.
9. Confirm jet fuel credit in advance
Aviation fuel is readily available at PGUM, and it’s not necessary to advise uplift volumes in advance. Note that if you do not have an accepted aviation fuel card, 72 hours’ prior notice is recommended to confirm fuel credit. Always check in advance to confirm what fuel cards are accepted.
10. Hotel, local area, and security considerations
A good selection of crew accommodation options – including large international hotel chains – is available at this location. Most hotels are within a 20-minute drive from the airport. For local transport it’s recommended to consider pre-paid transport (car with driver) or rental vehicles. While off-airport security is generally good at this location, it’s best to avoid traveling alone at night or visiting remote areas of the island. It’s important, also, always to be respectful of the native Chamorros people, who make up just over 37% of Guam’s population. Crews can enjoy selections of international cuisine, a wide range of fresh seafood, and local cuisine while on Guam. Sandy beaches, rock cliffs, and mangroves characterize the coastline. When swimming or wading, however, it’s important to always wear some sort of protective footwear, due to the presence of poisonous shells.
Always allow appropriate lead time for Guam landing permits. Understand that all tech stops at this location require CIQ clearance and that turn times may be longer than normal. For crews remaining overnight, this is a good rest stop with full support services available.
If you have any questions about this article or about operations to Guam, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.