Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Ground Handling

PT 5 M minute read
Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Ground Handling

This is a post by authors Stanley Joseph and Tigist Aberra. Stanley and Tigist work for Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (KALC), a subsidiary of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. which is headquartered in Mwanza, Tanzania. Stanley and Tigist are experts on permits and handling aircraft for the African region and can be contacted at and

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Ethiopia and continues from our last article: “Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Airports and Services.

With over 90 million inhabitants Ethiopia is the second highest population nation in Africa and the most populous landlocked country in the world. While most general aviation (GA) operations to Ethiopia are to Addis Ababa (HAAB), other airports are also available to operators. It’s important to note that outside of HAAB there are limited services and operating restrictions to consider.

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

1. Airports in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has two airports of entry (AOE) – HAAB and Dire Dawa (HADR). Almost all international GA traffic goes to HAAB. While both airports operate 24 hours a day, only HAAB offers customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) services 24/7. When the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews landing permit requests they’ll advise which airport(s) you’ll be able to use to enter the country. For example, you may first need to land at HAAB in some cases, for operations to HADR. All other airports in Ethiopia are domestic use only.

2. Ground handling options

Two types of handling services are offered – standard handling and diplomatic handling. For standard handling full operator information should be provided with complete schedule, crew and passenger information, services needed, and purpose of visit. In the case of diplomatic flights it’s necessary to supply a diplomatic contact. An appropriate embassy must always take responsibility for the flight, and an embassy contact needs to be provided to CAA in order to obtain a landing permit.

3. An improved GA handling experience at HAAB

In the past private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights were often handled like scheduled commercial flights. But airport authorities, particularly at HAAB, now better understand the unique nature of GA. Today, HAAB authorities have established a business aviation department, and GA operations are treated more like VIP flights.

4. Documentation

Arrival/departure cards are not required for Ethiopia, but there’s a special form that must be filled out by each passenger. A single copy of your gen dec needs to be submitted to authorities. The gen dec must contain all crew information and must be stamped prior to departing Ethiopia. On the day of departure if you do not have your gen dec stamped by customs/immigration you’ll be denied entry airside. This will cause delays until the situation is cleared.

5. Handling requests

There’s just one government-designated handler at HAAB permitted to assist GA airside. However, assorted supervisory agents are available to arrange and follow up on all services other than airside handling. The designated ground handler will notify air traffic control (ATC) of the aircraft’s arrival, once a flight plan is filed. They’ll also request aircraft parking for your intended length of stay. ATC, in turn, will notify all appropriate local authorities that are responsible for charging for landing, parking, and navigation fees. It’s recommended that a minimum of 12 hours notification be provided for ground handling services in Ethiopia.

6. Supervisory agents

Supervisory agents are recommended for any travel to Ethiopia. Your supervisory agent will assist with coordinating fuel, in-flight catering and all other service arrangements, as these are not normally arranged by the ground handler. Note, however, that supervisory agents are not able to access the ramp area. It’s important, therefore, to communicate all requirements prior to landing.

7. Parking considerations

For HAAB there’s one parking area designated for GA. However, wide body and large business aircraft are often assigned parking on the commercial side of the field. At other airports in Ethiopia you’ll be parked where ever there’s space as there are no GA-designated parking areas. Currently, there are no GA parking length-of-stay limitations anywhere in Ethiopia.

8. Schedule revisions

For schedule revisions your ground handler will notify all airport departments of the time change. If you’re revising date of operation be aware that your landing permit may need to be revised. CAA may choose to reconfirm your permit with the same permit number, or issue a new permit number. Be mindful that CAA only operates 0800-1700 local Monday-Friday and is closed on weekends and holidays. Short notice permit requests are normally only approved for air ambulance, emergency or diplomatic flights.

9. Payment for services

When operating to HAAB, and other destinations in Ethiopia, be mindful that you cannot pay for ground handling or airport charges with cash or consumer credit cards. Credit for services and airport charges is normally set up via your supervisory agent.

10. Fourth-party services

All aircraft support services, outside of ground handling, are arranged by your supervisory agent. These 4th-party services include in-flight catering, local transport, additional security etc. HAAB is the only airport in Ethiopia with an in-flight caterer. At other airports it’s recommended to either source catering from local hotels/restaurants or pick it up at HAAB prior to your departure from Ethiopia.

11. Handling costs and other charges

There are costs associated with the designated ground handler as well as for supervisory agents. Airport charges in Ethiopia include landing, parking, navigation, terminal, embarking and lighting fees. All of these services can be arranged on credit with prior notice. Your supervisory agent will usually settle these fees on your behalf. If requested, your supervisory handler will generate an estimated invoice, including all anticipated costs/charges, prior to your arrival.

12. Visa requirements

Crew do not require visas for Ethiopia so long as they’re listed on the gen dec and have crew IDs with them. Depending upon nationality some passengers require visas. For certain nationalities visas can be obtained on arrival, but others will need to have visas prior to arrival. It’s always recommended that passenger visa requirements be confirmed with your 3rd-party provider well in advance.

13. CIQ process

Clearing CIQ onboard the aircraft is not an option in Ethiopia. For CIQ clearance at HAAB, passengers will be transported to the VIP lounge, if this service has been requested in advance via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s recommended that operators request to use the VIP lounge for passengers so that they don’t have to go through the scheduled commercial lines. Depending upon the number of passengers CIQ clearance takes 10-15 minutes. If there’s an issue with a passenger visa or passport the clearance process may be somewhat delayed. Crew will be transported to the main terminal to clear CIQ via a dedicated crew line. There are times, however, when crew will need to go through general scheduled commercial clearance lines.

14. Departure considerations

Crew should arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the estimated time of departure to ensure the flight plan is filed and the aircraft is prepped for departure. Be mindful that even when a flight plan is filed by your 3rd-party provider the pilot in command still needs to go to the ATC office to personally sign the flight plan.

15. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


Be aware of limitations at HAAB when using only the local designated ground handler. To ensure all required services, and credit, are obtained it’s recommended to use the services of a supervisory agent for any operation to Ethiopia.

Later we’ll discuss fuel and security for Ethiopia and their impact on your trip.


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

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