Tips for Business Aircraft Operators Flying to the UAE for the Formula 1 Grand Prix

PT 5 M minute read
Tips for Business Aircraft Operators Flying to the UAE for the Formula 1 Grand Prix

Tips for Business Aircraft Operators Flying to the UAE for the Formula 1 Grand Prix

This year’s Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be held November 2nd-4th at the Yas Marina circuit located on Yas Island. Abu Dhabi City will come alive during this event, and demand for business aviation services and other related travel accommodations will run high. An anticipated sell-out crowd of over 50,000 spectators will gather at the Yas Marina circuit, one of the world’s most technologically advanced racing circuits. Best options, in terms of aircraft parking and hotel accommodations, will be available to those who book as early as possible.

1. There are three airports to consider for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The closest airport to the Grand Prix is Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA), and it’s an approximately 20-minute drive to the circuit. Other good options include Abu Dhabi Bateen (OMAD), a 25-minute drive, and Al Ain Intl (OMAL), an approximately 1.5-hour drive from the circuit. All three are Airports of Entry (AOEs).

2. OMAA is closest to the venue

Customs and immigration are available 24 hours a day at OMAA. As traffic volumes will be elevated over this period, it’s recommended to request aircraft parking early. All ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged on credit beforehand. Aviation fuel cards, as well as U.S. dollars, are accepted for payment of jet fuel at this location.

The airport maintains security 24 hours a day. Airfield security services are strictly controlled by the airport authority. No other companies or organizations outside of the airport authority are permitted to provide airside or aircraft security. Please note that for ramp and parking access, a vehicle can obtain access to the ramp but it will have to go to the security checkpoint. All access to the aircraft parking area must go through security. Additionally, all 4th-party vendors, such as caterers and fuelers, must go through security procedures to gain access to the ramp.

Crew and passengers must go through passport screenings through the local airport police. Please ensure that crew and passengers also hold appropriate visa documentation. There are security screening procedures for both crew and passengers, and baggage is subject to screening via a Computer Tomography X-Ray (CTX) machine and explosive trace device. All alcohol must be left in the bar on the aircraft. Alcohol must not leave the aircraft, and this applies to all of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It’s important to note that Islam provides the foundation of UAE customs, laws and practices. Visitors are expected to remain sensitive to the Muslim culture, so it’s best to avoid wearing articles of clothing that expose the arms, legs or feet.

For this airport, the aircraft parking area is between approximately 600-800 meters from the terminal and is surrounded by walls and barbed wire.

3. OMAL is another good option

OMAL is an AOE where customs and immigration also operate 24 hours a day. No airport slots or Prior Permission Required (PPR) are required for this airport. Ground handling and 4th-party services may be arranged in advance on credit. Major aviation fuel cards are accepted for payment of jet fuel.

For this airport, the aircraft parking area is between approximately 600-800 meters from the terminal and is surrounded by walls and barbed wire.

4. OMAD is the new executive airport

OMAD is a joint civil/military airfield and a 24-hour AOE. Airport slots are not required for this airport; however, a PPR is needed for all operations into this airport. Lead time for PPR is a minimum of 24 hours. Ground handling and 4th-party services can be arranged in advance via credit. Be aware that 24-hours’ notice is recommended for fuel arrangements, as the main office closes at 3 p.m. When sending a fuel release with shorter notice, or on the weekend, it’s best to contact your fueler to ensure confirmation of services.

For this airport, the aircraft parking area is between approximately 600-800 meters from the terminal and is surrounded by walls and barbed wire.

5. Landing permits are needed for all flights to UAE

Landing permits are required – with lead time of four working days – for both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) to any location in the UAE. The validity of landing permits is +72 hours. Landing permit procedures for the UAE are somewhat different from those of other locations, as requests must be made directly with each authority of the emirate in which the landing takes place. Documentation requirements may differ, depending on the emirate, so it’s best to work with your 3rd-party provider regarding all documentation needs.

Specific insurance is required for all operations into the UAE. All coverage amounts must be in special drawing rights (SDRs), and coverage will vary depending on the weight of the aircraft. Additionally, there are minimum requirements to be aware of for passenger, cargo and baggage liability. It’s recommended that operators contact 3rd-party provider to obtain more information and to clarify individual emirate requirements.

Flights to and from Israel are prohibited. Furthermore, Israeli nationals and those suspected of being Israeli but traveling on alternative passports will be denied entry into the country.

6. Additional information for UAE

Reduced Vertical Separation (RVSM) of 1,000 ft., between flight level 290 and 410 inclusive, will be applied within the whole emirates Flight Information Region (FIR). RVSM-compliant aircraft may operate within Emirates FIR RVSM airspace after submitting a flight plan indicating RVSM status in item 10 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan. Non-RVSM-compliant aircraft will not be permitted to operate within this RVSM airspace. Under special circumstances, a non-RVSM-compliant state aircraft may request approval only to cruise in RVSM airspace in the emirates FIR.

There are also restrictions to be aware of in the case of aircraft arriving from Afghanistan. Per the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) 07/09 (and due to concerns regarding security clearance of passengers, luggage and cargo), all civil-registered aircraft departing Afghanistan will only be permitted to land at UAE aerodromes if they depart from either Kabul (OAKB) or Kandahar (OAKN) and have gone through appropriate security screening.

Visas may be required for certain nationalities, so it’s best to confirm this with your 3rd-party provider or visa service company in advance. When making landing permit and fuel arrangement requests, be aware that weekends in the UAE are Fridays and Saturdays.

7. Consider hotel and local transport arrangements as early as possible

OMAA and OMAD have a good selection of 4- and 5-star hotels (including large international hotel chains) available. OMAL, however, has fewer hotel options. Best practice is to book 4- or 5-star hotel accommodations as early as possible due to high demand during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix period. If you’re not familiar with the area, avoid rental vehicles, due to traffic issues and possible road closures during the event period. Prepaid local transport (car with driver) is the preferred option for many business aircraft operators, and your ground handler will be able to make these arrangements for you.

8. Check online for additional information

More information on the Yas Marina circuit race dates, schedules and ticket purchase options can be found on the Formula 1 website.


While plenty of aircraft parking and accommodation options should be available for business aircraft operators planning to attend the 2012 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, there are landing permit lead times to be mindful of. Best strategy – particularly if you’re setting up a short-notice trip to this year’s Grand Prix – is to begin working with your 3rd-party provider, or ground handler, as soon as a firm schedule is known.


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