What should an international operator know when planning a business jet flight into the Middle East? What are the complexities to overcome and plan around? Jetex’s Salem Bokai provides his top four pointers…
Flying to the Middle East can be highly rewarding for those pursuing a business venture in the region – but it’s not something to be undertaken without a clear understanding of the complexities involved.
Thorough planning is recommended, ideally with the help of a trip support provider. To help avoid the more common difficulties that could be encountered, the following are some of the top tips from Jetex…
Tip 1: Be aware of working days in the region
While the international weekend is Saturday and Sunday, the weekend in the Middle East is different. For the majority of countries in the region, the weekend falls over Friday and Saturday, and in some others (e.g. Iran) it’s Thursday and Friday. Oman recently switched to Friday and Saturday.
Adopting different weekend days naturally reduces the number of mutual business days between foreign operators and official agencies/authorities to just four (or in some cases three) working days.
Moreover, the Middle East is known for its multiple lengthy public holidays. In addition to national/local public holidays which are tailored per country, two long public holidays are observed for the entire region (the Eid).
Combined with the different weekend days, operators planning to fly into the region will need to be fully aware since they may have a significant impact on the possibility of receiving some necessary approvals and/or permits to fly over or into the Middle East.
Tip 2: Know what permits you will need
Unlike in Europe and North America where you can file your flight plan and fly, operators will need permits and approvals to fly over and into Middle Eastern countries.
Civil aviation authorities require a set minimum notice period (ranging between 24-72 working hours) to approve overflight or landing permits. In most cases a non-scheduled operator will be obliged to declare the purpose of their flight and landing, provide details of a local sponsor, and also provide details of passengers and crew on board the flight.
Tip 3: What are the safety and security concerns?
There are several safety- and security-related hot spots in this region, including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Sinai of Egypt. All those no-fly or non-preferred fly-zones (basically war zones) impose serious limitations to an operator’s freedom of air transport in this region.
Avoiding warring countries may well add extra flying time, distance and fuel cost which eventually means extra costs. Operators flying into the region should know in advance where the trouble spots are, and plan accordingly.
Tip 4: Understand the logistical issues
International airports usually tend to have the necessary equipment to handle all types of aircraft, 24/7. However, the situation at regional and domestic airports in the Middle East is not the same.
For example, some airports cannot receive certain aircraft types, due to limited runway capability or because of a lack of equipment. Moreover, some of those airports close at weekends (remember, Middle East weekends are likely to be different to international weekends) and at night. In some cases, airports may only open on request.
Moreover, there are some domestic airports (usually located in minor cities or towns) that do not have adequate accommodation to cater for international visitors.
More information from www.jetex.com
Bonus Tip: Payment Matters
In addition to Jetex’s tips (above), others familiar with the Middle East reveal that issues can arise in regard to payment.
Non-scheduled operators will likely have to pay for ground services, airport fees, fuel, catering, and more, in cash, and before departure. Complicating issues is the fact that credit cards are not always accepted (particularly in sanctioned countries such as Syria, Sudan, and Iran), or in countries where infrastructure does not support this form of payment (e.g. Algeria).
Meanwhile, payment in cash can also be problematic, particularly where the exchange rate doesn’t favor the payer. In those cases, payment through third parties (service providers) remain the best way forward.
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