Operating a business jet to MEBAA? Here’s what you need to know

PT 5 M minute read

The Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) airshow is the leading business aviation exhibition in the Middle East for business aviation professionals. For general aviation (GA) operators planning to attend MEBAA2018, in Dubai, December 10-12, there are a number of planning considerations to be mindful of.

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

1. Primary airports

MEBAA 2018 will be held at Al Maktoum (OMDW), the primary airport for GA operators attending the event. Dubai (OMDB) is also available, but this is primarily a scheduled commercial airport with more challenging GA access. Note that OMDW is about a one-hour drive to the city center, and ramp space here will be partially taken up by static display aircraft. While available parking opportunities will be better at OMDW, some operators looking to avoid the longer drive into Dubai will opt to park at OMDB. Your ground handler will advise parking availability at OMDB according to your schedule.

2. Operating hours and services

OMDW and OMDB are 24-hour airports of entry (AOEs) offering full GA infrastructure and support services. However, note that OMDW has a weekly runway closure every Monday from 1100z to 1400z and 2000z to 2045z. During these periods the airport closes to all arrivals/departures.

3. Airport slots and PPRs

Both OMDB and OMDW have airport slots but do not mandate prior permission required (PPR). OMDB slots have deviation of -/+ 15 minutes, and failure to use your slots, or operating outside of the deviation period, can lead to operator fines. Note that peak hours at OMDB are 0800-2200 local, and it may be difficult to confirm GA slots during this period. At OMDW slots have deviation of just -/+ 5 minutes, but extended deviations are permitted due to weather issues. For both airports it’s recommended to request airport slots as soon as schedule is known.

4. Other airports to consider

Abu Dhabi (OMAA) and Bateen (OMAD) are good alternate airports to consider for operators traveling to Dubai and/or MEBAA. Both are 24-hour AOEs with no airport slot or PPR mandates. Drive time to OMDW, or to the popular Jumeirah hotel area to the west of central Dubai, is about one hour from either Abu Dhabi airport.

5. Hotel considerations

Dubai has a wide selection of hotels available, including international chain hotels, but most are located in the city area. Expect to pay 160-280 USD and up per night for 4-star crew accommodations. If you choose to stay out at OMDW, 4-star crew accommodations are available, but supply is limited. Crews planning to book accommodation in the OMDW area during MEBAA are advised to book as soon as schedule is known. Accommodations close to OMDW will be in high demand, with prices elevated during this event period.

6. Local transport

For crew ground transport we recommend pre-paid (car with driver) options. As demand will be elevated for these services during the MEBAA period, it’s recommended that arrangements be confirmed as early as possible. You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs. Public taxis are best avoided unless pre-vetted by either your hotel or ground handler.

7. In-flight catering recommendations

In-flight caterers are available at all major UAE airports, and 72 hours’ advance notification is recommended for catering orders.

8. Jet fuel uplifts

Fuel uplift delays are possible at both OMDB and OMDW, but for different reasons. OMDB experiences potential GA fueling delays due to very high volumes of scheduled commercial traffic, with priority always given to commercial operators. On the other hand, operators at OMDW may experience fuel delays due to the great distance between the parking ramp and the fuel farm. To minimize the potential for fuel delays on the day of departure it’s recommended to fuel upon arrival and to always pre-specify fuel volume requirements.

While permit requirements and associated lead times are not onerous for Dubai and Dubai-area airports, it’s important to be mindful of differing requirements between the various Emirates. Also, customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) processes should be reviewed in advance due to the potential for delays due to increased traffic.

9. UAE permit requirements

Landing permits are needed for all aircraft operating to the UAE, but permit applications and documentation requirements vary depending upon the Emirate. Note that landing permits must be obtained from the appropriate Emirate and from the specific Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) associated with the particular airport. For example, if you’re traveling to Dubai, documentation requirements and the CAA you deal with will be different than if you’re operating to Abu Dhabi. In most cases, documentation requirements are somewhat similar for CAAs within the UAE. Be aware that overflight permits are not needed for the UAE as your filed flight plan serves as the required overflight notification.

10. Permit lead time and revisions

For operations to the UAE, official permit lead time is four business days with permit validity of 72 hours. Note that landing permit confirmation numbers must be placed in the ICAO section of the flight plan, and flight plans must always be on file 24 hours prior to departure. Permit revisions are required for any changes in schedule or aircraft.

Note: Beginning March 1, 2019, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority will implement a new non-refundable $115 USD application fee for all landing permits at OMDB. This fee will apply even in the operation is canceled.

11. Short notice permit requests and revisions

As CAAs at Dubai (OMDB), Al Maktoum (OMDW), Abu Dhabi (OMAA) and Bateen (OMAD) operate 24/7, there are opportunities to obtain landing permits on short notice and to revise permits in an expeditious manner. However, this is always at CAA’s discretion.

12. Qatar restrictions

Due to the ongoing Qatar diplomatic crisis, it is critical that operators with aircraft either based in Qatar or operating to Qatar or within its airspace be aware of the following. Per NOTAM A0848/17 NOTAMR A0812/17, all aircraft registered in Qatar are not authorized to overfly UAE airspace, depart or land at UAE aerodomes.

Additionally, operators not registered in Qatar but intending to operate non-scheduled flights or charters (including private flights, cargo and passenger), from or to Qatar via UAE airspace shall obtain approval from the GCAA Aviation Security Affairs by providing a copy of the detailed manifest of the flight including passenger names at least 24 hours prior to departure to the following contact info:

    • TEL: 00971 50 642 4911

13. Insurance requirements

The UAE has mandated liability insurance minimums in effect. In most cases, minimum liability insurance requirements are 250,000 special drawing rights (SDRs) per passenger. In the case of non-commercial aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 2,700 kg or less minimum insurance per passenger must be at least 100,000 SDRs. For more detailed or specific information on mandated insurance requirements contact your trip support provider.

14. CIQ clearance

For OMDW, CIQ is always cleared at the GA terminal, and clearance usually takes about 10-15 minutes. However, during the MEBAA period clearance may take a little longer due to heightened traffic. OMDB also has a GA terminal, but CIQ clearance point depends upon your ground handler. OMAA, likewise, has a GA terminal where CIQ is usually cleared, but this again depends on your ground handler. OMAD normally clears GA flights at the GA terminal, but there’s a maximum aircraft size limitation at this location – up to B737- or A321-sized equipment.

15. Visa requirements

In most cases, crew does not require visas for stays in the UAE of up to seven days. This visa-free entry option is available for crew listed on the gen dec, in uniform and carrying the appropriate license. There are some exceptions to this rule – such as if you’re an Israeli national – so it’s always important to check on applicable requirements prior to arrival. In some cases, visa-free crew stays beyond the seven-day limitation are possible, such as when an aircraft is delayed for repair or maintenance purposes. Passengers, depending upon nationality, may require visas for the UAE. When visas are required it’s best that they are obtained in advance, but some nationals are eligible to get visas on arrival.


If you’re planning on attending the MEBAA show or will be in this area during this event, be aware of additional traffic in the area. Services such as hotels and transportation will be in high demand. It’s recommended that arrangements for such event be made in advance. Operators are also advised to be aware of restrictions in operating to UAE from Qatar.

While permit revisions can be organized fairly expeditiously for this region, it’s important to ensure that appropriate lead time and documentation is provided. Also, be aware of the CIQ clearance processes, the average time to clear and visa requirements when traveling to this country.

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