Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Fuel, Additional Services, and Security

PT 4 M minute read
Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Fuel, Additional Services, and Security

This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is general manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the U.K. and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in the UK and continues from our last article: “Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Permits and PPRs.”

For business aircraft operators traveling to the UK, requests for aviation fuel, in-flight catering, and other services should be made in advance of the trip. Here, we’ll cover the key things you need to know about these ground service requests, as well as information about airport security in the UK.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Be aware of fuel uplift considerations

Fueling options differ depending on the airport. Most operators choose to use either an aviation fuel card, or a fuel release for uplifts in order to take advantage of lower contract fuel prices. Consumer credit cards and cash are the least favorable forms of fuel payment as you’ll pay posted fuel price. Posted fuel prices are updated according to different schedules – daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – depending on the airport fueler.

2. Quick-turn tech stops are possible

Quick-turn fuel uplift options vary by airport and volume of fuel requested. For tech stops a general aviation report is submitted to Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) authorities, who will process the information and determine if a clearance is required. When planning a tech stop in the UK, be aware of airport hours and curfews, as well as anticipated airport congestion. For example, making a tech stop at London Heathrow (EGLL) is inadvisable, due to slot availability, permit issues, and long taxi delays because of airport congestion.

3. Know the process for obtaining aviation fuel

Aviation fuel should always be requested in advance to avoid day-of-operation delays. Larger airports in the UK have more than one fueler available on the field. Your Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) or ground handler in most cases will be responsible for coordinating with the fueler(s) at their location.

4. Beware of taxes associated with fuel uplifts

In addition to fuel costs, you may be subject to value added tax (VAT). This tax may be exempted, however, if you’re a charter (non-scheduled commercial) operator and show your air operator certificate prior to fueling.

5. Fuel testing may be requested

Aviation fuel testing is available on operator request. Normal practice is for each fueler to test fuel quality at beginning and end of the day, as well as after each fuel truck fills up.

6. Rental cars are available at UK airports

Most airports in the UK have rental cars available. Your ground handler will be able to coordinate car rentals with your full name, copy of driver’s license, credit card information, requested rental dates, and car type (automatic/standard shift, vehicle size, etc.). Public transportation is generally safe within the UK. If you’re taking a taxi, however, it’s best to take a “black cab” as these are recognized as the best and safest options. Alternatively, ask your FBO to coordinate your transport with a preferred supplier.

7. Be aware of in-flight catering considerations

Larger airports in the UK have in-flight caterers available, but many of these are located off airport. Catering menus are available, and caterers typically deliver orders directly to the ground handler. Assorted restrictions exist in terms of delivering catering airside. For example at Stansted (EGSS) caterers may deliver directly to the aircraft so long as they have valid airport passes, or the drivers bring passports enabling the FBO to issue them passes. Heathrow (EGLL), on the other hand, will allow only licensed caterers to deliver airside.

8. Airport security is good throughout the UK

Fencing, security cameras, and routine patrols – of perimeter and ramp areas – are standard at all UK airports. UK airports typically have their own airport police take care of security within the airport boundary, and these police forces have armed units. Some airports also have “special branch” police units available for high-profile and high-risk flight activity.

9. Vendor/employee ramp access is controlled

Regulations governing airport ramp side access vary by airport. Airside access for non-airport employees – such as an off-site aviation maintenance technician – is well controlled. For example obtaining an airside employee pass for EGSS requires a background check and five-year employment history. Access for off-site personnel and/or mechanics requires presentation of a passport and assistance of a ground handler in obtaining a temporary airport pass. All access airside by such personnel requires an escort. Private security can be arranged to guard your aircraft while it’s on the ramp, but security personnel due to police regulations may not be armed. Special security procedures are not in place for technical refueling stops in the UK unless crew members/passenger choose to exit the airport.

10. Additional reading: “Business Aircraft Operations in the UK” series index

Links will be added as new articles are published.


When traveling to the UK, be aware of the fueling arrangement processes and applicable taxes. Airport security is good throughout the UK, but ability to access the ramp may differ by airport. For this reason it’s recommended that you speak to your 3rd-party provider or ground handler when access to the ramp is needed.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UK, contact me at

Later, we’ll discuss flight planning, weather, and NOTAMs for the UK and their impact on your trip.

Got a question for Jason about this article?