Welcome to one of the most beautiful, vibrant — and dangerous — countries on the planet.
BEY is a modern, well-maintained airport with a dedicated general aviation terminal with three tenant FBO/handlers in residence: Cedar Jet Center, Med Airways and Executive Aircraft Services. On landing a follow-me truck will meet and escort the aircraft to an assigned parking slot arranged in advance by the operator's handler. “Our handler will have two reps waiting,” Meyer said. “One is a ramp agent for the crew, and the other is a customer service agent who escorts the passengers to a lounge area where their passports will be taken to CIQ for clearance. A small immigration fee is assessed for customs clearance.”
The luggage is also taken to the building for screening and x-raying both on arrival and departure. “After that, passengers will be escorted to the receiving party, or the people the passengers will be meeting,” Meyer continued. “These people and their vehicles will have to be registered with the handler, as this is a secured area. The handler in advance will have provided the details for the meeting party to airport security. Private security is not allowed into the airport from the outside. If the aircraft needs to be guarded, the handler will arrange that through the airport.”
Meanwhile, the crew will be escorted to the lounge and then to CIQ, and finally to their transportation to the hotel, also arranged ahead of time by the handler. The aircraft will be triple-chalked (i.e., at each landing gear) and cones will be placed around it.
There are early morning peak times at 0500-0600Z and later at 1200-1400Z, especially on Fridays. “We recommend that operators fuel on arrival, if possible,” Meyer said. “Otherwise advise the handler to book a time slot for fueling before departure. In terms of pricing, there are no excessive fuel taxes [on March 14, 2013, it was running $4/gal. retail].” Hangarage is available but it needs to be booked in advance. “Cedar Jet and Executive Aircraft have their own hangars, and Cedar's can accommodate up to a B767,” he said. Light maintenance is available for BBJ,, and Hawker types.
Catering is described as “very flexible” with a minimum 3-hr. advance notice to the providers. “It features locally produced products,” Meyer said. “There is a caterer at the airport and one that is off-site.” Local hotels also can provide it.
The airport is close to downtown, about a 15-min. drive. There are many good, high-quality brand-name hotels, the Radisson being the most popular with flight crews. “The weekend in Lebanon is Saturday and Sunday,” Meyer explained, “and 70% of the population is French-speaking. Lebanon is a very popular destination in the Middle East for skiing in its mountains.”
When it's time to depart, the crew will be met at the FBO by the ramp agent. “There is a permission form that the crew gives to the handler to allow the airport the move the aircraft as close as possible to the lounge for departure, if so desired,” Meyer said. “The service depends on availability and how busy the airport is at the time.” The aircraft can also depart from the north parking area, in which case the crew and passengers will be driven to the aircraft. If the crew refuses to have the aircraft moved, departure will be from the arrival stand.
The baggage will be counted and tagged by the handler, and when the departure x-ray security process is completed, the baggage will be taken to the aircraft. To assure baggage accountability, the handler will get a signature from whomever managed it during the security process and transportation to the aircraft.
Jeppesen recommends that flight plans be filed 3 hr. before departure, although the minimum is 1 hr. in advance. Permits are route-specific and must be indicated in the flight plan. Routing must match the permit both in and out.
Beirut Airport has some of the best security in the Middle East. It is ironic that in some countries where there has been unrest or threats from outside (e.g., Israel), the airport can be the safest place to be due to heightened security considerations. OLBA offers some of the best ground handling anywhere, as it appears that the field is very well organized and welcoming to business and private aviation.