Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Ground Handling

PT 4 M minute read
Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Ground Handling

This is a post by author Hiroshi Higashiyama. Hiroshi is representative director for Universal Aviation Japan, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Haneda, Narita, Sapporo, and Osaka. Hiroshi is an expert on business aircraft operations in Japan and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post is the first part in a series on business aviation operations in Japan.

For business aircraft operations to Japan, full services and ground handling are readily available throughout the country. Still, there are lead time considerations to be mindful of and service limitations to consider when operating to smaller domestic airfields.

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

1. Requesting ground handling in Japan

Depending upon the airport you’re operating to, lead times of 6-72 hours are appropriate for ground handling requests. Ideally, it’s best that operators provide three days lead time for handling requests. Particularly when operating to very busy and congested airports, such as Narita (RJAA) and Haneda (RJTT), time is needed for your ground handler to arrange airport slots, parking and aircraft services.

2. Coordinating airport personnel

Several agencies, in addition to your ground handler, are involved with international handling requests. Agencies which must be notified include the Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB), customs, immigration, human quarantine (HQ), plant quarantine (PQ), and animal quarantine (AQ). Officers, representing various government ministries, are involved with each arrival request. CAB deals with airport slots and aircraft parking while the other agencies come into play only for international legs. All officers are normally based at the terminal but will come out to an aircraft as needed.

3. Third-party vendor services

Your handler will assist in coordinating all 3rd-party vendor services – including in-flight catering and local transport – and will assist with credit if prior arrangement has been made.

4. In-flight catering

Lead time of at least 24 hours is recommended for catering requests. Only five-to-six airports in Japan offer in-flight catering, so you may be looking at sourcing catering directly from hotels/restaurants. If catering is brought in from a hotel/restaurant your ground handler needs to be involved to pass this through security and to the aircraft. Be aware that many hotels and restaurants in Japan may deny aircraft catering requests, due to food safety and liability concerns. In other cases, local chefs may provide catering but may not agree vary food menus and/or offerings to what the operator may prefer.

5. Private vs. charter flights

For private non-revenue operations to Japan, with a single stop in country, no landing permit is required. If your operation is charter (non-scheduled commercial) or a private non-revenue flight doing domestic legs, however, permits are needed. Japan CAB allows permit requests to be submitted a minimum of one business day prior to arrival, assuming documentation is in order. Note that CAB services are available 24/7, and permit requests may be submitted at any time.

6. Information required to arrange ground handling services

To set up handling services the following should be provided:

  • Operator name
  • aircraft registration and nationality
  • flight number and call sign
  • a full itinerary with the estimated arrival and departure time
  • crew and passenger information including names, position, nationality, dates of birth, hotel contact information (if staying overnight)
  • services required
  • fuel release information

7. Arrival/departure cards

Arrival and departure cards are needed for all passengers. Your ground handler will fill out these cards, in advance, as long as all passenger information has been submitted. Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) authorities in Japan must always be notified, in advance, of international arrivals – somewhat similar to advanced passenger information system (APIS) requirements in the U.S. Your ground handler can take care of this.

8. Handling process

Once a handler receives a request they’ll review your schedule to ensure you’re arriving within airport and CIQ operating hours. Then they’ll secure airport slots and parking from the airport authority. Handling and 3rd-party services will be coordinated, and customs/immigration cards filled out for passengers. A gen dec and passenger list will be prepared along with crew “shore passes.” Your handler will monitor in-flight catering requests and/or coordinate catering with local restaurants/hotels. They’ll also liaise with fuel providers to ensure uplifts are ready at the date/time requested.

9. Tech stops

When planning tech stops in Japan lead times are the same as for overnight stops. A minimum of 24 hours lead time should be provided. Always ensure that the airport you intend to arrive at is an airport of entry (AOE) and that you’ll arrive when the airport and CIQ are open. The average turnaround time for tech stops is 55 minutes. Be mindful that arrival and departure airport slots may be needed, depending on the airfield. No landing permits are needed for tech stops, even in the case of charter. CIQ clearance is not necessary for quick turn tech stops as long as no one is embarking or disembarking. In this case, visas are not needed and passengers may remain onboard during fuel uplifts.

10. Additional reading: Operating to Japan – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


Ground handling and aircraft services are available throughout Japan. Keep in mind appropriate lead times for services and allow sufficient time for the ground handler to make the necessary requests for airport slots and parking, as well as advise the associated authorities of the aircraft’s arrival.

Later we will discuss airport operations for Japan and how it may affect your trip.


If you have any questions about this article or operating to Japan, contact me at

Got a question for Hiroshi about this article?