A spectacular city in the desert hosting the world's tallest building, Dubai has engineered a transition from oil to finance, real estate and tourism.
No Permits Necessary But File Early If You Want to Park
Not surprisingly then, Dubai is a popular destination for business aviation, and at any given time, dozens of business jets can be seen parked at the main airport's three FBOs. As a sign that this global city welcomes visitors eager to do business, only prior arrival notification is required and landing permits are unnecessary. Handlers, however, stress the importance of filing early if operators desire to keep their aircraft at rather than depositing passengers and repositioning to another field in the UAE (or out of the country), as access is actually tied to availability of parking.
“Submit your schedule, and they will issue landing permission at Dubai International based on availability of parking stands at the airport,” Jess Gassaway, an account manager at the Colt International flight planning and handling service in Houston, told BCA. “The FBOs at OMDB are Jet Aviation, Executive Flight Center and Execujet — these are where the parking stands are located. You do not need tow bars, as FBOs are well established, very new and well equipped. They are similar to a U.S. facility. But it's very important to give advance notice to secure a spot.”
Likewise, the UAE does not require visas (see “City at a Glance” for details), but both passengers and crew must hold valid passports and crewmembers are required to display valid crew IDs. “IBAC [the International Business Aviation Council] can issue them for a reasonable fee,” Keith Dixon, who oversees training and development at Colt, reminded readers. “With best practice, you are looking at a 48-hr. advance notice,” Dixon continued, “but be aware that their work week is Sunday through Thursday, so don't file on Friday [when Muslims go to mosque].”
At Dubai International Airport, customs comes to the FBOs and clears passengers there. “Unfortunately, the fuel farm is located on the opposite side of the airport from the general aviation area, and their first priority is fueling Emirates Airlines,” Gassaway said. “We recommend taking on fuel on arrival, as you can wait up to 90 min. for a fuel truck.”
Addressing the competition for fueling at OMDB, Mark Keiswetter, a charter pilot based in Doha, Qatar, who often flies a Hawker 900 to Dubai, added that “There are multiple service providers in Dubai, and we'll often tell them, 'Whichever truck gets here first gets the sale!'” Other than that, Keiswetter claimed, “Dubai has good equipment and good people and a good system in place that's efficient.”
Bart Gault, an independent contract pilot typed in several long-range business jets with considerable experience flying into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, noted that the “big difference” between the two locations is that “Dubai is much more security-conscious. In Dubai, you have to have a security clearance just to go to the airplane — and it takes 12 to 24 hr. to get one. This applies only if you want access to the aircraft during your stay. Departing, you can go to the airplane without the security clearance, but seldom will they allow you to go back inside the terminal after that.”
OMDB is an extremely busy airport, Gault emphasized. “It will take some time to get fueled, as the fuelers work on a schedule to feed a lot of airplanes. You may be able to fuel on arrival, but don't count on it. If a passenger is late arriving, the flight plan can be amended; however, if a passenger arrives early and wants to leave early, you may run into the fueling problem. My SOP was to be at the airport no less than an hour and a half to 2 hr. prior to departure.”