International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Search results: "mexico" (page 1 of 4)

Mexico City Airport – After Earthquake Status

Following the 19Sep earthquake in Mexico City, MMMX airport sustained damage, and forced closure:

MMMX/Mexico City Operational again after the earthquake, since 1600EST yesterday. Terminal damage, airtrain not operating. Runways and Apron OK. No fuel issues reported.

  • If you require information about your flight, get in touch with your airline.
  • Access to Terminal 2 is only through the roundabout, plan ahead to arrive on time.
  • The airtrain is out of service.  Bus service is available between P6 and P7 from T1 and P4 from T2.
  • AICM is currently working on fixing both terminals, and this work is not risking the security the customers.

 

MMTO/Toluca Remained operational, did not close, no issues reported.

Any updates to MMMX operations will be posted here.

Midweek Briefing: Mexico Volcano Eruption, Atlantic MNPS is over… Introducing HLA

Mexico Volcano Eruption 29JAN Popocatepetl Volcano, which is 55 kilometres southeast of Mexico City, had its last major eruption in 2000; it erupted on Tuesday this week affecting flight operations at MMPB/Puebla, and with the risk of further eruptions affecting operations in Mexico City itself.

Atlantic MNPS is over… introducing HLA 29JAN Effective next week, 04FEB, there are another round of changes on the North Atlantic – HLA/High Level Airspace is the replacement for MNPS, and the airspace is extended with Bodø joining Shanwick, Gander, Reykjavik, New York, and Santa Maria. Read our International Ops Notice 01/2016.


 

 

North Atlantic Effective 04FEB MNPS Airspace is replaced by HLA/High Level Airspace on the North Atlantic – extended with Bodø joining Shanwick, Gander, Reykjavik, New York, and Santa Maria. RNP4 or RNP10 now required. Read our International Ops Notice 01/2016 
or our blog post: Did you know MNPS is over?

TTxx/Trinidad and Tobago The annual Carnival in Port of Spain will take place on February 8 and 9, 2016. Travel and tourism activities are expected to continue for up to two weeks after the celebration and will be busiest during weekends. February 10, 2016 (Ash Wednesday) is expected to be the busiest day of the year at the Port of Spain airport. February 8 to 9, 2016 is also expected to be a congested time for departures.

KSFO/Super Bowl 50 The FAA will not be imposing a slot-based special traffic management program for the game on 08FEB, but ramp reservations, made through specific FBOs, will be required for all arrivals and departures from 04-08FEB. The rule will apply to all airports in the region, including San Francisco International, Oakland International, Hayward Executive, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, Livermore Municipal, Buchanan Field, Napa County, Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County, Monterey Regional, Watsonville Municipal and Salinas Municipal. NBAA has set up a Super Bowl 50 information page that includes links to the FAA arrival/departure routes.

Uxxx/Tajikistan The U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Tajikistan that reads as follows: “In early September 2015, armed clashes involving security forces resulted in a number of deaths close to Dushanbe International Airport and in the Romit Valley not far from Dushanbe. While tensions have eased, security remains heightened. You should continue to take extra care, monitor the local media and check this advice regularly.”

KFZZ/Falcon Field, Arizona In January and February, Runways 4R/22L and 4L/22R at Falcon Field Airport (FFZ) in Mesa, AZ will be closed non-concurrently for the taxiway ALPHA realignment construction project. These are hard closures with no potential for runway recall. Runway 4L/22R had closed Jan. 12, at 6 a.m. (1300Z) and will remain closed until Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Runway 4R/22L is expected to close Monday, Feb. 1, at 6 a.m. (1300Z) and remain closed until Sunday, Feb. 15.

Kxxx/United States A few weeks ago we reported on new FAA FDC NOTAMs that eliminate the need to obtain a TSA Waiver for domestic flights in the US. on 17JAN The FAA has corrected an error in these (in simple terms, they forgot to include some previously issued exceptions), and so there are 3 brand new NOTAMS effective – these are 6/4255, 6/4256 and 6/4260. Got some time?Read the original NOTAMs in full.

Mxxx/Mexico The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country. U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued May 5, 2015

EISN/Shannon FIR Due to a number of flights deviating from clearances prior to exiting Shanwick OCA, flight crews are reminded that Eastbound route clearances issued by Shannon Control for aircraft exiting Oceanic Airspace apply from AGORI, SUNOT, BILTO, PIKIL, ETARI, RESNO, VENER, DOGAL, NEBIN, MALOT, TOBOR, LIMRI, ADARA, DINIM, RODEL, SOMAX, KOGAD, BEDRA, OMOKO, TAMEL AND LASNO. Flights shall not turn before these points.

Uxxx/Russia The Russian Institute of Volcanology has issued a code orange alert after Russia’s Zhupanovsky volcano began erupting earlier this week, sending clouds of ash and gas to 27,000 ft. A code orange advises pilots to avoid flying near the ash cloud, reportedly moving over the North Pacific Ocean driven by prevailing easterly winds.

UIII/Irkutsk has issued NOTAM A0134/16 closing RWY 12/30 weekly on Tuesdays from 1210-1450Z beginning Feb 02 and ending March 22. UIII is not available as an alternate during those times.

UHSS/Yuzhno is closed daily between 0330-0500Z due to preventative maintenance. No end date has been issued.

RPHI/Manila FIR has begun Phase 1-b of an ADS/CPDLC trail. The specific details of the plan can be found here.

Wxxx/Indonesia  As of 19JAN, Mount Egon has been erupting on Flores Island, which is located east of Bali Island. Egon emitted large amounts of ash and noxious gas. As of yet, the eruption has not caused any flight delays or cancellations; however, previous volcanic eruptions in the lesser Sunda Islands have caused extended delays in Denpasar and Mataram.

Zxxx/China Talks with the Zhuhai municipal government, Chinese government, Zhuhai Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority China (CAAC) resulted in temporary International China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) services at Zhuhai Airport for non-scheduled business aviation movements. Following the approval late last month, China’s National Port Administration Office opened a temporary customs port on January 1. The approval is renewable on a six-month basis. During the “approval period” from January 1 to June 30, crewmembers of foreign business aviation flights can enter and exit China via the temporary business aviation port at Zhuhai Airport.
View the full International Bulletin 27JAN2016

Monday Briefing: Georgia joins IFPS, new Mexico APIS requirements

Georgia joins IFPS Jan 13: Effective 09JAN, Georgia is now part of the Eurocontrol IFPS. Flight plans within the Tbilisi FIR are now managed by Network Management in Brussels/Paris. This means flights plans should be filed in the same way as other European Countries, and ATC slots will be managed from Brussels.

New Mexico APIS requirements Jan 13 : Effective this month, Mexico has a new set of Advance Passenger Information (API) requirements, published by the Mexican Government’s National Institute of Immigration (INM) and applying to all commercial, non-scheduled commercial (charter), and private non-revenue operations. For flights over 1 hour API data must be sent within 30 minutes, for shorter flights immediately.

EDDL/Dusseldorf No arrivals Monday 13JAN 1000-1120 due to Bomb Disposal operation, delays expected until later in the afternoon.

LIxx/Italy ENAV Unions in have notified Industrial Action as follows: 30/01/2014, 1400-1415 UTC All ENAV personnel at LI ACCs and airports, 10/02/2014, 0900-1700 UTC ENAV personnel in LICJ TWR, 21/02/2014, 1200-1600 UTC All ENAV personnel at LI ACCs and airports

HSSS/Khartoum has a new area radar service from 05JAN in the northeast portion of the FIR.

NFFF/Nadi FIR, Fiji ADS-B In Trail procedure trial underway effective 09JAN, reducing separation to 15NM in Oceanic Airspace for suitable aircraft.

HSxx/South Sudan Due to the clashes in the Republic of South Sudan, HSSM/Malkal Airport, and HSWW/Wau Airport, are anounced closed, not serviceable, till further notice

EPWW/Warsaw ACC Significant restrictions in place for the next few months due to new system. Overall Enroute capacity reduction of 35%. Restrictions affect traffic departing from U… with destinations LI** LE** LO** EG**, LFP* and EHAM until 15 January.

Afghanistan PPR is Mandatory for all flights to Bagram (OAIX), Jalalabad (OAJL), Kabul (OAKB), Kandahar (OAKN) and Tereen (OATN). For operations to more than one airfield, a separate PPR request form must be submitted for each one

Bolivia The permitting process for Bolivia is becoming stricter, with delays in issuing permits more common than before. Both landing and overflight permits are required for operations to or overflying Bolivia for private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. Permits are processed by Bolivia’s Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (DGAC) during normal operating hours: Monday-Friday, 0830-1630 local. Documentation requirements are the same for private non-revenue and charter flights.

Mexico Effective January 1st, Mexico has a new set of Advance Passenger Information (API) requirements, published by the Mexican Government’s National Institute of Immigration (INM) and applying to all commercial, non-scheduled commercial (charter), and private non-revenue operations. For flights over 1 hour API data must be sent within 30 minutes, for shorter flights immediately.

India Crews operating Ferry Flights and General Aviation crews can once again secure visas or TLP’s (Temporary Landing Permits) on arrival into Indian airports. In addition, Indian missions and posts abroad have been authorized to grant business visas to crew of private non-revenue and charter flights within three days of the visa application. These visas will be endorsed on their national passport and not on the crew member certificate. These visa processing times also do not apply to crew who are nationals of a PRC country. Visas for these crew members could take as many as 30 days.

Russia New requirements for API and PNR data for Airlines operating both scheduled and non-scheduled flights in effect 01DEC. API data should be transmitted 15 mins prior departure to SITA MOWRU8X. NOTAM A2345/13 and AIC 04/13.

Process simplified for Border Overflight Exemptions

Recent changes mean that Border Overflight Exemptions are now more straight-forward in two key ways:

  1. Everything has been centralized! Before, operators had to apply for their BOE’s from CBP offices at individual airports – some would approve requests, and others wouldn’t, and there seemed to be a bit of a lack of consistency in some cases. CBP has now streamlined the process, and will be issuing all new BOE authorizations from their headquarters instead.
  2. Authorizations have been simplified! Before, some BOE authorizations contained the aircraft operator, approved aircraft, and approved crew; and some others contained only the aircraft operator and approved crew. Now, all new authorizations will only contain the aircraft operator. What this means is that for operators who get this new approval, they will now be able to fly any of their authorized aircraft with any authorized crew when conducting an Overflight arrival.

Important to note: CBP will issue new BOE’s to operators as requested, but until that happens, operators must comply with the terms and conditions of the authorizations they already hold.

CBP have told AOPA the following – “Because this change in procedure is occurring on a case-by-case, operator-by-operator basis, CBP officers are having to process operators who have been authorized under three sets of terms and conditions. Until the transition is complete, please be patient with our officers.”

So, bottom line – if you’ve got any BOE required flights coming up soon and you want to benefit from the new format, better submit a request for an updated BOE authorization as soon as possible! Send CBP an email at GAsupport@cbp.dhs.gov

What is a Border Overflight Exemption, and when do I need one?

When flying to the US from the south, you need to land at the first designated airport of entry that is nearest to the point of crossing the U.S. border or coastline (see the chart below for the list of these airports). If you want to land elsewhere, you need to get a Border Overflight Exemption.

In this case, ‘the south’ means everywhere from south of 30 degrees in the eastern U.S. and south of 33 degrees in the western U.S. This covers all flights from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, and some parts of French Polynesia.

Here is the list of designated southern airports of entry:

Further reading:

14JUNE: Dash 8 shot at and set on fire (pictures), get new FSB Daily Operations Brief

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.
LLZZ/Israel From Jun 9, Israel will ban all Indonesian passport holders from entering the country. This comes after a recent incident where Indonesian authorities refused entry to a group of Israeli tourists, reportedly in response to recent events in Gaza.

 

MNZZ/Nicaragua At least 100 killed in Nicaragua as political violence has intensified over the past few days. Roadblocks by protestors have increased nationwide, including some roads around MNMG/Managua Airport.

 

LSGG/Geneva Runway repairs mean the airport will be closed each night Sun-Thu from midnight to 6am local time, Jun 17 – Aug 3. No evacuation possible, so airport can’t be used for emergency diverts, and should not to be planned as an alternate.

 

PHZZ/Hawaii Kilauea erupted again on Jun 7. A river of lava destroyed an entire neighbourhood, but ops not affected at Hawaiian airports. Volcanic ash cloud was initially reported up to FL100, but is no longer identifiable from satellite data. Check VAAC for latest at https://goo.gl/JuS5VE

 

WADD/Bali Runway repairs mean Bali’s airport will be closed each night (except Wednesdays) from 02-07 local time, Jun 24 – Sep 22.

 

LEZZ/Spain That Barcelona ATC strike announced in April, and planned for Jun 20, won’t be happening. Spanish controllers have decided there is enough strike action across the border in Marseilles.

 

MMZZ/Mexico Hurricane Bud is weakening, max sustained winds have decreased to near 60 knots with higher gusts. Expected to become a tropical storm late Weds, and forecast to still be a tropical storm when it reaches southern Baja California late Thursday.

 

ELLX/Luxembourg Saturday’s short-notice closure of Runway 06/24 was unplanned, and due to immediate repairs required to the surface. There were significant delays on reopening. Potential for further unplanned repairs, monitor.

 

VOGO/Goa Runway lights failed for three hours on Jun 9, closing airport. This is the second time in 3 weeks that this has happened. There are also concerns over the runway surface condition.

 

LGAV/Athens Airport will now not accept any positioning flights without pax on board, and no flights with ground time over 24 hours. PPR is required for all operations.

 

DNAS/Asaba Slowly becoming operational again after a 6 week closure to repair the main runway.

 

LGZZ/Greece The annual weekend Greek Islands slot delays are up and running. LGMK/Mykonos stand allocation computer has broken, high delays there, and also at LGSR (the worst), LGSA, LGIR, LGAV. This will be a normal situation during the summer, Saturdays are often the worst.

 

LFZZ/France The next round of French strikes in the LFMM/Marseilles sector is expected June 16-17. No official word yet, but it’s expected to be similiar to the recent strike over the weekend of June 9-10.

 

MNZZ/Nicaragua The latest indication of the worsening crisis – American Airlines have now cancelled all flights to Nicaragua due to civil unrest across the country that have claimed the lives of at least 139 people so far.

 

OLBA/Beirut On Jun 8, Lebanese media reported that staffing levels at the airport are a cause for potential safety concerns. There is a shortage of air traffic controllers and reports indicate there have been at least four potentially serious safety incidents since the beginning of 2018.

 

LTAC/Ankara More reports from Opsgroup members of GPS jamming in Turkish airspace, particularly around LTAC airport. “It was gone for a long while over Ankara city, but it seems that it has come back now, and it’s worse than ever. Especially if you make an approach to Ankara (LTAC) rwy 21L/R from the East. Apparently the GPS signals get jammed by the military over Ankara city due to fear of attacks with precision guided missiles.”

 

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.

Venezuela crisis: the impact on international ops

All operators, in particular those with an N-reg on the tail, should be aware of the rapidly deepening political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

There are shortages of food and many basic goods across the country. Since the start of 2018, there have numerous reports of boats full of starving Venezuelans, many of which left the country illegally, turning up on the shores of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The U.N. is now warning of a humanitarian “catastrophe”, as worsening food shortages have seen looting and protests escalate over the past few months, claiming the lives of at least seven people so far.

In recent months, Colombia has tightened controls along it’s border with Venezuela, to try to curb the flow of thousands of migrants seeking to escape.

Here’s a summary of the current situation:

SVMI/Caracas Airport

  • The airport is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robbery and kidnappings. Before suspending all flights to Venezuela in Aug 2017, Avianca hired bodyguards after shots were fired during a robbery of a bus carrying its crew. Some other carriers took to flying crew to spend the night in neighbouring countries, rather than risk staying overnight anywhere in Caracas. In Feb 2018, Ecuadorian state airline Tame joined Avianca in a long list of airlines that no longer operate to the country, including: Aerolineas Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air Canada. Most reports estimate that international traffic in Venezuela has dropped by around 65-75% since its peak in 2013.
  • Reports of airport officials detaining some passengers for long periods, often demanding bribes and confiscating personal items. The US have warned that “security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods”, and that “the U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”
  • Colombia’s pilots’ association says its members who have flown to Venezuela have had to deal with contaminated fuel and hours-long delays as the National Guard pulls suitcases off flights to loot them.
  • On Aug 8, 2017, a Venezuelan lawyer was shot dead at a ticket counter at SVMI/Caracas airport. In 2016, an Egyptian visitor was killed walking outside the airport between terminals after arriving on a flight from Germany.
  • Frequent power and water cut across the country. The airport suffered power cuts in Dec 2017 and again in Mar 2018, forcing the suspension of all ops for several hours each time.

Travel advice   Western countries are all now recommending against “all but essential travel”. A large majority of airline carriers have now stopped operating to Venezuela, for a mix of reasons – not least because onward payment of ticket monies have been stopped by the Venezuelan government. The US describes the greatest current risks as social unrest, violent crime, pervasive food and medicine shortages, and the arbitrary arrest and detention on U.S. citizens.

Sanctions   Both the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Venezuela, with specific restrictions on President Maduro himself. This creates an uncertain situation for foreign aircraft operating in Venezuelan airspace. So far there have not been any reported cases of any retaliatory sanctions, such as grounding of foreign aircraft, although with the crisis worsening, such measures are not out of the question.

Notable withdrawals   On August 1st, the UK Foreign Office followed the US in withdrawing family of personnel from their respective embassies. This is a common precursor to a deeper security risk, and in the last 5 years we’ve seen this pattern in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Then in Jan 2018, IATA closed its offices in Venezuela. They said that the exchange controls the government placed on taking money out of the country effectively left it with a debt to IATA of $3.8 billion, which it refused to pay.

Flight Ops   See below on overflight. There were interruptions to Notam and Metar service throughout 2017. At one point it appeared that SV** had lost its connection to the international AFTN system.

Airport Spy   The most recent OpsGroup member reports are not encouraging. The top report on SVMI is titled “Hazardous in Caracas”: “The operating conditions in Caracas have deteriorated to a new level. New ATC controllers that have been installed in the last few months do not speak English very well, if at all, and in some cases and they are issuing clearances not appropriate for IFR or terrain clearance. Tremendous caution should be exercised especially when moving internally within Venezuela. SVMI authorities are now demanding to see the complete insurance policy for the aircraft, not just proof of insurance. We had Spanish speaking personnel with us and when we questioned a local SVMI controller about not using English, his response was that we should all be speaking Spanish! “. More in AirportSpy. If you’ve been through recently, add your report.

Overflight   Operations through Venezuelan airspace do not require an overflight permit, and so there have been no incidences recorded of US aircraft being denied a permit. However, on several occasions in the last month, Venezuela has for short periods arbitrarily closed its airspace to overflying aircraft. A common problem with Venezuelan overflight is the denial of airspace entry due to unpaid navigation fees, which is why checking this in advance is recommended. This may be a tool used to deny US aircraft entry in the future. Plan operations through the SVZM/Maiquetia FIR with caution. To be clear, we do not assess any risk to enroute aircraft, but be mindful of the fact that if you do enter SVZM airspace, you may end up diverting to an SV** airport. Right now, that’s not ideal.

Avoiding Venezuela  If you elect to avoid SVZM airspace…

To the west:
– via Colombia (SKED/Bogota FIR) – permit required for all overflights.
– watch out if planning a flight through the TNCF/Curacao FIR – although a permit to overfly is not required here, they have started denying entry to non-IATA members if they have not prepaid for navigation fees in advance. More on that here.

To the east:
– via Guyana (SYGC/Georgetown FIR) – permit not required
– via Suriname (SMPM/Paramaribio FIR) – permit required
– via French Guyana (SOOO/Rochambeau FIR) – permit required unless operating a GA aircraft under 12.5k lbs.

For more detailed info on each country’s specific permit requirements, take a look here.

If you need a tech stop and previously used/considered SVMI, then look at alternatives like TNCC, TTPP, SBEG, SMJP. Use the OpsGroup planning map to figure your best alternate options.

19JAN: Euro MMEL update, Iraq airspace officially open

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.

LFZZ/France The French ATC strike has been cancelled. It was planned to take place in the Marseille ACC (LFMM) from Jan 18-21, but was averted at the last minute as unions reached an agreement. ATC services will now be provided as per normal.

LTCG/Trabzon The airport has closed to all flights until Jan 19, as they work to remove the stranded Pegasus B737 that skidded off the runway on Jan 14 and came to a stop on a muddy cliff, with its nose almost in the sea.

OTZZ/Qatar The UAE allege that on Jan 15, Qatari fighter jets intercepted an Emirates aircraft in international waters just north of the tip of Qatar. Qatar denies the claim. Following the incident, the UAE CAA published a safety alert, warning about “unannounced and hazardous military activities within Bahrain FIR in airways UP699 and P699”, which they consider to be “a potential hazard to the safety of flight.” Qatar have filed a complaint of their own with the UN, claiming that UAE military aircraft have repeatedly violated their airspace during the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the Gulf states. All this complaining on both sides is much more likely to be political wrangling, rather than any kind of genuine airspace safety issue. [Full story]

FIMP/Mauritius and FMEE/Reunion have both escaped a direct hit by tropical cyclone ‘Berguitta’, which is passing just south of the islands as it continues to track south-westwards. FIMP reopened on Jan 18, and Reunion is set to open on Jan 19 at 0400Z.

EZZZ/Europe Last year, EASA began requiring all aircraft transiting European airspace to have an approved Minimum Equipment List (MEL) for each individual aircraft. An MEL that references the MMEL was not acceptable. EASA follows ICAO guidelines, and ICAO does not recognise MMEL as MEL. Now a joint EASA/FAA workgroup has been established, to try to sort out this mess. It looks like the FAA will soon issue a notice requiring international operators to obtain new D195 LOA’s, and EASA will halt any findings for a period of 12 months to allow for these new LOA’s to be issued.

OEZZ/Saudi Arabia A missile launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen was intercepted over the Saudi city of Jizan, near the Yemeni border, by the Saudi air defense system on the night of Jan 16. Houthi rebels stated that an airport in the region of Jizan was the intended target of the ballistic missile. This is the third Houthi missile to be intercepted by the Saudis in 2018 – none have resulted in casualties, but operators should consider carefully operations to Saudi Arabia.

EDDM/Munich Two big events coming up: the Davos World Economic Forum from Jan 22-26, and the Munich Security Conference from Feb 14-18. The airport will be busy for both, so best get your parking requests in early. Also bear in mind that all GA flights will need to get special permission to land at EDDM during these events. For PPR contact +49 89 975 21132 or email specialoperations@munich-airport.de

FACT/Cape Town After an unprecedented three years of drought, Cape Town has less than 90 days of water left in its reservoirs. The airport has published a Notam requiring all flights to tanker in water – don’t expect to be able to uplift any at the airport for the foreseeable future.

ORZZ/Iraq Expect ORER/Erbil and ORSU/Sulaymaniyah to re-open to international traffic soon. The Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad have reached an initial agreement to lift an international flight ban imposed on the autonomous Kurdish region by the Iraqi central government last year. No official date set yet.

VTSP/Phuket The runway will be closed overnight from 19-00z until at least Jan 21. There are also ongoing issues with BA/GA aircraft being unable to secure parking for longer than a few hours. Most are having to drop-off pax and then reposition elsewhere.

ESZZ/Sweden ESNN/Sundsvall has become the country’s second airport to have remote air traffic control, after ESNO/Ornskoldsvik made the switch back in 2015. So the local tower is now officially closed, and air traffic control service has been transferred to one of the country’s national control centres. ESSL/Linkoping airport will be the next one to be transferred to remote ATC later this year.

UUWW/Samara has put one of its two runways back into operation following reconstruction. The renovated strip is 3,000 meters long and 45 meters wide, and is capable of receiving Boeing 777 and Airbus А340 widebodies.

SBGL/Rio De Janeiro The annual Carnival will be taking place from Feb 9-13. Road closures and major travel disruption expected across the city. An estimated 6 million people, including 1.5 million foreign tourists, are expected to participate in the celebrations. The mayor of Rio has requested federal troops to provide support to local security forces to maintain order during the carnival period. So far, no special restrictions or procedures have been announced for SBGL airport, but it will be busy, so get your parking request in as early as possible.

HLLM/Tripoli Mitiga Heavy clashes broke out in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Jan 15, leaving at least nine people dead and forcing the airport to suspend all flights until further notice. Our advice: don’t land at any airport in Libya, don’t even overfly the country.

HEZZ/Egypt On Jan 13, Egyptian authorities imposed indefinite night-time curfews on areas of North Sinai province, including the cities of Rafah and Al-Arish. The Sinai region has suffered frequent terrorist attacks in the past few years. On Dec 19, militants fired artillery at HEAR/El Arish Airport in North Sinai, killing one army officer and wounding two others. There are still overflight warnings in place for the entire Sinai Peninsula below FL260.

SPZZ/Peru Airports in southern Peru are reported to be running as normal, following the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that shook the country on Jan 14, leaving at least one person dead and 65 injured in the cities of Arequipa, Ica and Ayacucho.

RPZZ/Philippines Volcanic earthquakes, rockfalls, and a number of steam-driven eruptions have shaken the summit of the Mayon volcano in the Philippines. More than 12,000 people have been ordered to leave a 7km evacuation zone around the volcano, which is located around 15km north of RPLP/Legazpi, and around 330km south of RPLL/Manila. There are warnings of destructive mudflows, and ash cloud around the volcano has been reported up to FL170.

MMTO/Toluca The runway will be closed overnight from 04-12z on the following dates in January: 20-22, and 27-29.

FQMA/Maputo The airport will be closed overnight from 21-04z for runway repair, until Feb 28.

OEZZ/Saudi Arabia has issued an extension of the policy that requires all aircraft with a destination in Yemen to first land in OEBH/Bisha – through to Apr 13. The only exceptions are the UN, Red Cross, and MSF.

MMZZ/Mexico The U.S. State Department has issued its highest “do not travel” warning for five states in Mexico: the Pacific coast states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas on the eastern Gulf. The advisory says that “Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.” This latest advisory ultimately classifies these regions at the same level of danger as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.

URSS/Sochi The Russian Investment Forum will be taking place from Feb 13-17. During that time, charter aircraft with wingspan over 24 metres will be limited to a maximum of 2hrs on the ground. Make sure you get your slots in advance through your handler.

ORZZ/Iraq Back in December 2017, the U.S. FAA partially lifted the ban on the Baghdad FIR and started allowing U.S. operators to overfly Iraq at or above FL260. Now the three other big countries that regularly publish airspace safety information—France, Germany and the UK—have followed suit with new advice of their own. France recommends that overflights should only be on airways UM860 and UM688, and should be at or above FL320. The UK says that overflights should only be on airways UL602 to ALPET, UM860 and UM688, and should be above FL250. And Germany just say that overflights should be at FL260 or above.

TVZZ/St Vincent & Grenadines Reports of low fuel levels on the islands at the moment, so make sure you tanker in.

LIPZ/Venice The Carnival of Venice will be taking place from Jan 27-Feb 15. The general aviation terminal (GAT) is open daily 05-21z, with overtime available upon request, but bear in mind that both runways are closed for maintenance Mon-Sat 2330-0350z until Mar 24. PPR required at least 24hrs in advance – do that through your handler or call the airport PPR office direct: +39 041 260 6906. Currently there are only two large aircraft GA parking stands available at the GAT, and although parking may be possible on the commercial apron, it’s not guaranteed, so best get your request in asap.

EDDK/Cologne The airport’s two shorter runways (06/24 & 14L/32R) are both closed until the end of March, which is causing a few delays. And then on Jan 8, the airport had to suspend ops for a few hours due to emergency repair work which needed to be carried out on the only operational runway (14L/32R). It should be noted that all non-scheduled and GA flights must get PPR confirmed in advance, either through your handler or by calling the airport PPR office direct at: +49 2203 40 4310.

LSZH/Zurich The World Economic Forum is on from Jan 23-26. LSZH will be congested, so apply for slots early if you’re actually planning on stopping there. Earliest non-scheduled landing for a wide body aircraft without parking permission will be 1300z daily, Maximum 3 hour ground time for general aviation without parking permission. Also, you will not be able to use LSZH as an alternate to flights going to LSZS/Samedan. Note that LSZH operates from 05-21z daily, and overtime is not available – make sure you land before closing time or you’ll get diverted to another airport.

HCZZ/Somalia Somalia’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority (SCAMA) regained control of Somali airspace on Dec 28, after 27 years of management by the ICAO regional office in Nairobi. The airspace will now be controlled in Mogadishu as the country has installed new air traffic control facilities at HCMM/Mogadishu Aden Adde airport.

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.

07DEC: NAT changes today, Honduras airports curfew

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.
SOCA/Cayenne Due to the ongoing ATC strike, the airport will be limited between 01-11z daily, until further notice. This means you can’t file as an alternate, and if you want to arrive or depart during these times, you’ll need to call ATC for PPR in advance at +594 35 92 72, or +594 39 93 02.

VTZZ/Thailand Most of southern Thailand has been declared a disaster area after flash floods in the region killed 15 people in the past two weeks. Heavy monsoon rains since late November have affected more than 1.5 million people across nine southern provinces, with some areas reporting floodwater as high as two metres. The only airport currently affected is VTSF/Nakhon Si Thammarat, which will be closed until at least Dec 8 due to flooding. However, more rain is forecast in the region through to next week.

DISP/San Pedro Local sources have confirmed that the airport remains closed as of Dec 6, as runway repair work which was supposed to be completed by the end of Nov is still ongoing. No news yet when the airport will re-open.

FQZZ/Mozambique Make sure your travel visa is in order, and expect strengthened border control measures over the festive period, including at the country’s main airport FQMA/Maputo. Mozambique provides an easy entry point for illegal immigrants to neighbouring South Africa. Since the end of November, at least 95 foreign nationals have been denied entry to Mozambique on the grounds of alleged ambiguity over the purpose of visits, visa-related irregularities and other discrepancies.

VIDP/Delhi From Dec 15 to Feb 15, you can’t use VIDP as an alternate if visibility at the airport is less than 550 metres. This is the time of year when the city is regularly blanketed in smog, so check the latest METAR before filing.

UUZZ/Russia From 29 Mar 2018, Russia are introducing RNAV routes in their oceanic airspace above FL265. RNAV 10 out in the oceanic parts of Murmansk and Magadan FIRs (i.e. the area covering the entire northern coastline stretching from Bodo to Anchorage), but RNAV 5 over landmass.

EGMC/London Airport fire workers are set to go on strike between Dec 22 and Jan 6. If the strike goes ahead, this would effectively mean the airport would not be able to operate between these dates.

VNZZ/Nepal Election on Dec 7. Election-related violence, particularly small bombings, has intensified in recent days. Authorities have already sealed a number of land borders with India and China. Expect heightened security measures, checkpoints, patrols and spot-checks.

EGZZ/UK Storm Caroline will bring winds of up to 90mph to northern parts of Scotland on Dec 7, as well as snow and ice to large parts of the UK on Dec 8-9. Authorities have warned that the storm could bring storm surge and potential flooding to coastal areas. Airport ops are expected to be significantly affected only at airports in Northern Scotland.

HTZZ/Tanzania has published a new rule effective December 6th, requiring all travelers to have a Yellow Fever cert, regardless of departure country. Previously, only travelers arriving from affected areas were required to have this.

WAZZ/Indonesia Although Mount Agung has now stopped emitting ash, another large eruption is still likely. The local monitoring agency are registering powerful and continuous tremors, and authorities have ordered locals and journalists within 10km of the volcano to evacuate. All airports in the region have now re-opened and are operating as normal – but check the Notams for some nighttime closures for runway repair at WADD/Bali and WARR/Juanda throughout December.

EGKK/Gatwick The main runway (08R/26L) will be closed every night from 2300-0530z until Dec 20, then again from 2330-0600z Jan 2-31. During that time, the northern runway (08L/26R) will be open – the one that normally gets used as a taxiway! There’s no ILS on this runway, so approaches must be DME or RNAV.

KZZZ/USA The US Supreme Court has allowed President Trump’s revised travel ban to go into effect – banning nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea (plus certain government officials from Venezuela) from entering the US. Judges have said the ban can take full effect straight away, even though legal challenges continue in the lower courts. The U.S. will now refuse entry visas to prospective travellers from these countries, regardless of whether they have “bona fide” links inside the U.S. such as business links or close family relationships.

LEMD/Madrid Sporadic strikes planned by security staff at Madrid airport from Dec 22 to Jan 8. Expect longer queues to get through departures if the strike goes ahead.

EHAM/Amsterdam KLM cabin crew strike planned all day on Jan 8, means potentially no KLM flights will depart from the airport that day.

UUZZ/Russia is expanding its free electronic visa program to all of its Far East international airports by the end of the year. The system allows citizens of the following 18 countries to obtain a free visa online for stays of up to 8 days: Brunei, India, China, North Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

URRP/Platov The new airport in Rostov will officially open on Dec 7, replacing the old airport, URRV/Rostov. By 08z on Dec 7, all airlines will switch to the new airport. The old airfield will officially close to all traffic from March 1, 2018.

UHPP/Petropavlosk Mt Shiveluch in the far-east of Russia has erupted again, ash cloud currently up to FL330, moving south-east out over the Pacific Ocean at 20 knots.

GOBD/Dakar New international airport set to open at Dakar, called GOBD/Blaise Diagne International Airport. From 1430z on Dec 7 onwards, all scheduled operations will switch to there from the current airport – GOOY/Dakar. However, possible travel disruption on Dec 7 itself, as there’s a protest by local residents set to take place on the road to the new airport on the opening day.

LATI/Tirana Severe flooding across the country, including the capital, Tirana. Over 120,000 households are without power, and the army has now been sent in to evacuate people. Flights to and from the airport were temporarily suspended over the weekend.

ZKZZ/North Korea Cathay Pacific crew onboard a flight from from San Francisco to Hong Kong on Nov 29 witnessed the re-entry of North Korea’s latest missile near their position. They said they saw it “blow up and fall apart near our current location”, highlighting again the danger posed to aircraft in this region from debris fields of missile fragments.

LGTS/Thessaloniki Chaos at the airport the moment, as both of the main runways are closed, and the parallel taxiway “F” of RWY 10/28 has established as the only functioning runway – they’ve called it RWY 10L/28R. There’s currently no radio control facility, and there’s a whole bunch on obstacles which are affecting the take-off flight path area and the visibility of the runway lights (check the Notams for those). Easyjet have already cancelled flights to the airport, as it no longer meets their safety standards. If you’re planning on operating there any time soon, you’ll want to read their AIP SUP 04/17 for full details, plus all the charts you need. The runway repair work is not expected to be finished until around March next year.

WARR/Juanda Airport will be closed for runway repair from 16-22z daily until Jan 06.

WADD/Denpasar Bali’s airport will be closed for runway repair from 18-23z daily (except Saturdays) until Dec 31.

OYSN/Sanaa Worsening fighting over the past few days is now moving toward the airport. Last week, the Saudi-led coalition said they would resume issuing clearances for humanitarian aircraft to land at the airport, but so far they have not done so, and the UN have been unable to evacuate staff from the city.

FSZZ/Seychelles has lifted the travel restrictions it imposed last month against flights to/from Madagascar, following the plague outbreak there. No more 7 day quarantine for incoming passengers any more. Air Seychelles are set to resume flights to Madagascar on Jan 12.

DNZZ/Nigeria Long lines at filling stations reported across the country as people are panic buying fuel. Fuel shortages and the subsequent hike in prices seems to happen around this time every year in Nigeria. Shortage of Jet A1 fuel is a common problem here, and often leads to grounding of flights. International operators are being advised to tanker wherever possible, particularly over the coming festive period.

LIZZ/Italy Alitalia services likely to be disrupted on Dec 15, as some staff will be on strike all day. And expect some delays on the trains across the country on Dec 17, when some staff are planning an eight-hour strike from 9-17 local time.

KPHX/Phoenix Expect delays from Jan 8 – Feb 21, as RWY 8/26 will be closed for repair. The airport will be operating with lowered arrival and departure rates during this time. The most likely periods for delays will be during IMC conditions: 07-10 and 17-20 local time (14z-17z and 00-03z).

CYYZ/Toronto Since More reports of laser strikes on arriving aircraft. Since mid-November, there have been 23 laser strikes on commercial jets in the Toronto area.

KBUR/Burbank is close to the California wildfires affecting the region at present, but airport ops are normal. Transport to/from is affected, some trains/buses cancelled as not able to operate. No delays or restrictions at the airport itself. That said, there is smoke in the METAR, so it may change.

KZZZ/Worldwide The latest Unsafe Airspace Summary is available to members here, published 29NOV – edition JULIETT. Primary changes Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia.

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.

29NOV: WE QUIT. Unsafe airspace warning, Bali volcano, Shanwick changes

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.
 EGGX/Shanwick From December 7, you’ll need datalink in most of the NAT Region between FL350-390. After Jan 4, you can expect additional RLAT tracks, and in March, PBCS. Need more on that? Read our NAT Changes 2017 page. Confused? Read our NAT: Choose your own Adventure guide to figure out what happens if you don’t have HLA approval, RVSM, TCAS, RNP4, Datalink, or enough coffee on board.

ZKZZ/North Korea. On November 3rd, the FAA published Notam 23/17, which now prohibits US operators from entering any of the Pyongyang FIR. replacing SFAR79 and previous advice to ‘exercise caution’. The situation remains tense, and as highlighted by FSB in September, the western portion of the Japan FIR is a risk area due to multiple missile re-entries into the same portion of Japanese airspace. Updated UAS 29NOV.

GAZZ/Mali The conflict in Mali is onging. Germany added a new specific warning for GAKL/Kidal on 15 Nov, in addition to GATB/Timbuktu and GAGO/Gao. Updated UAS 29NOV.

OEZZ/Saudi Arabia is now at Level 2 – assessed risk. Due to military activity related to the involvement in Yemen, it is suggested to avoid the southwestern region of the Jeddah FIR. On Nov 4 a missile launched from Yemen reached Riyadh Airport. Saudi sources say missile was intercepted, this is not yet confirmed. Threats have been made by Yemen of further strikes. Updated UAS 29NOV.

OAZZ/Afghanistan The situation in Afghanistan remains similar. On November 15, Germany removed wording to maintain FL330 or higher, no altitude advice now exists, but they recommend against landings at Afghan airports. Updated UAS 29NOV.

SOZZ/French Guyana There seems to be no end in sight for the French Guiana ATC strikes. Here’s the current situation: SOOO FIR: the entire airspace will be uncontrolled from 00-11z until further notice (extended beyond 01Dec). That means there will be no ATC staff on duty during these times. Basically, during the closure, there’s a contingency plan in place: so if you want to cross this bit of airspace, there are now very specific routes and levels you have to fly at. Check these carefully prior to ops, and make sure you’re at the right flight level before crossing the FIR boundary. Once you’re inside the FIR, don’t change your speed or level. Read the article.

ORZZ/Iraq has reopened to international carriers for overflights, or, better put, international carriers are starting to overfly again. Emirates was the first international airline to resume overflights of Iraq, with the first flights through the Baghdad FIR on Monday Nov 27, followed closely behind by Turkish Airlines. According to FSB sources, the GCAA authorized UAE based airlines to use this airspace, after several years of restrictions. Emirates anticipates that about 150 flights a day will now route via Iraq, rather than having to take longer routes via Saudi Arabia or Iran. This is the first in several steps we expect will lead to almost full resumption of overflights over Iraq, meaning operators will have shorter routes through the Middle East available once again. The next step will be for the FAA to authorise US carriers to overfly Iraq – most likely at FL260 or above. That approval was initially slated for the end of October, but was held back after events on the ground posed a security concern for UM860 and UM688 – the two main routes through the Baghdad FIR to Europe and vv.

EHAM/Amsterdam New time slot system currently being trialled, where passengers travelling within the Schengen area can reserve a spot at a certain time to pass through security. The system is designed to reduce the huge queues at peak travel times.

DXZZ/Togo Further anti-government protests planned on Nov 29-30 and Dec 2 in the capital Lome and other urban centres. Authorities have said they may temporarily suspend SMS and internet services during the protests.

MMZZ/Mexico From Dec 7 onwards, HF radio in Mexico’s oceanic FIR MMFO/Mazatlan will be provided by San Francisco Radio, for all flights above FL195. So for all position reports or route/level change requests, contact them on any of the following: 3413, 5574, 8843, 8915 or 13354 KHZ.

VGZZ/Bangladesh Nationwide strike planned for Nov 30, protesting against recent electricity price hikes. In the capital, Dhaka, expect increased security, transportation disruptions, and possible protests.

LLBG/Tel Aviv Airport workers are planning to stage a 24hr strike from Fri to Sat evening, Dec 1-2. If the strike goes ahead, this would pretty much completely shut down the airport – only a skeleton staff would remain at the airport to deal with emergencies.

SBZZ/Brazil is launching a new e-visa program. From Jan 15, travelers from the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan can apply for visas online. The issuing process should take around 72hrs.

ZZZZ/Worldwide FSB made a permit map. It’s new. It will give you a quick summary of overflight and landing requirements for each country. If you want the full bible, then you can buy the new FSB Permit Book that goes with it. Try the map.

Weekly International Ops Bulletin published by FSB for OPSGROUP covering critical changes to Airports, Airspace, ATC, Weather, Safety, Threats, Procedures, Visas. Subscribe to the short free version here, or join thousands of your Pilot/Dispatcher/ATC/CAA/Flight Ops colleagues in OPSGROUP for the full weekly bulletin, airspace warnings, Ops guides, tools, maps, group discussion, Ask-us-Anything, and a ton more! Curious? See what you get. Rated 5 stars by 125 reviews.

New rules for flying from the U.S. to Cuba

Update 9 Nov 2017: Effective today, the US has new rules for travel to Cuba as an individual. These restrictions will limit the ability of US citizens to undertake most personal travel to Cuba unless part of a licensed group. The new measures will also bar US citizens and companies from engaging in business activities with over 180 Cuban enterprises the US government has concluded are linked to the Cuban government in some way (check the full list here).  The new policy will not affect travellers with existing bookings, such as a flight or hotel reservations. Upon their return, all US citizens will be required to maintain proof of all activities in Cuba, and must ascertain that no U.S. laws were violated during their trip. OFAC and CBP will enforce the new regulations, much talk of hefty fines.

 

If you’re traveling to Cuba from anywhere other than U.S. territory, it should be a doddle. Get a landing permit, arrange your ground handling, file your flight plan, and off you go.

If you’re trying to get to Cuba from the U.S. though, it’s a different story…

A tale of two Presidents…
In December 2014, President Obama announced plans to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and in the July of the following year a lot of restrictions were lifted for N-registered aircraft operators wanting to do private and charter flights to Cuba.

However, the U.S. authorities (the Treasury Department, in this case) didn’t want to break with tradition and make the process completely straight-forward and misery-free, so their Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) introduced a rule which means that only 12 categories of travel are permitted between the US and Cuba. This was then further complicated by legislation introduced by President Trump in June 2017! Here are the permitted categories of travel:

(1) family visits
(2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organisations
(3) journalistic activity
(4) professional research and professional meetings
(5) educational activities or so-called “people-to-people” travel – it’s not possible to claim this category if you make your own travel arrangements; this is only possible for officially sanctioned group travel.
(6) religious activities
(7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
(8) support for the Cuban people
(9) humanitarian projects
(10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
(11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
(12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorisation under existing regulations and guidelines.

As you might have spotted, you cannot simply travel from the U.S. to Cuba for the purpose of general tourism! You have to match one of these 12 categories.

 

Applying for a licence to travel
Here’s the thing: you don’t actually have to do this.

Once you decide which category applies to you, you do not need to apply for any kind of licence to travel from OFAC – you will simply qualify under their rules for the so-called ‘General Licence’.

However, each one of these 12 categories for permitted travel is highly controlled and has specific requirements that must be met for the exemption to apply. If you want help in trying to work out which one of these categories might apply to you, read the FAQ section of the official guidance – it’s actually pretty good: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf

Once you’ve done that, you might want to read the extra little FAQ they put together, following the changes made by President Trump in June 2017 (basically this just says that no more individual travel for educational or “people-to-people” will be allowed – only group travel will be allowed in this category): https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_20170725.pdf

 

I don’t match any of those 12 categories – what do I do?
If you do not match any of the categories, things get tricky. In this case you would need to apply to OFAC for a ‘Specific Licence’ – although this process can take up to 3 months. You can do this online at the US Treasury Dept page: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Pages/licensing.aspx

 

Should I book a trip myself, or book through a tour agent?
If you really are going to Cuba to visit relatives, or for some kind of religious pilgrimage, you could probably get away with making your own travel arrangements.

If not though, the easiest way to make sure you qualify will probably be to just engage the services of a U.S. based company to help make your travel arrangements – they’ll book you on to some kind of tour and get you to a sign a “travel affidavit” to confirm that you really are going to Cuba for the reason you say you are!

If you decide to make your own arrangements, you’ll still need to make sure you carry one of these documents. You don’t need to submit it anywhere in advance, but you do need to keep it handy just in case anyone from CBP asks to see it. To get a sample of this form, click here.

Bear in mind that if you book through a tour company, you will be traveling under a specific, government-approved itinerary. That means that when you get to Cuba, officially, you can’t just go wandering off by yourself. Your tour company won’t be able to book you into Cuban hotels, rent cars or take buses at all, since the Cuban government owns them. You’ll most likely be booked into a bed-and-breakfast, or a homestay, and you will only be able to take part in pre-approved, pre-arranged activities.

 

All this talk of OFAC and categories and travel affidavits is hurting my brain. Isn’t there an easier way?
Technically, yes there is.

If you want to avoid all this bureaucratic misery, you could always fly to Cuba by way of Mexico or Canada. There are no restrictions from those countries regarding travel to Cuba, so U.S. citizens can fly straight in. Remember, Cuba doesn’t restrict U.S. citizens from entering – just get a visa in advance, and that’s all you need.

However, bear in mind that when you return back to the U.S. – if you get caught out trying to hide your trip to Cuba from U.S. Customs officers, you could face serious punishment.

 

Cuba landing permit
You’ll need one, regardless of where you’re flying from, or what country your aircraft is registered in. The official notice required by the Cuban authorities to process a permit request is 3 working days. No docs are required to obtain an overflight permit, but for a landing permit, the following is required: CoR, CoA, CoI, crew and pax information, reason for flight and receiving party in Cuba for landing approval. Which brings us neatly on to…

 

Receiving party
Cuba will only give you a landing permit if you provide the name and contact details of a local receiving party or ‘business sponsor’. If you’re trying to do it yourself and do not yet have a local receiving party arranged in Cuba, you should contact your ground handler to check if they can act in this role for you.

 

Landing fees
There’s actually a very simple way to work these out:

 

Handling
The Cuban CAA require all operators to obtain handling confirmation from a company based in Cuba. If you don’t have a copy of an ‘Airworthiness Review Certificate’ for your aircraft (N-registered aircraft, for instance), you have to show a copy of aircraft maintenance log book entries showing the recent work performed on the aircraft and confirming that the aircraft was returned to service in an airworthy condition. Also, any jet over 10,000 LBS MTOW must provide a noise certificate via their handling company.

 

Visas
If you’re flying to Cuba from the U.S. you’re going to need to get proper business visas (remember, you’re not a tourist!). Although it is possible to obtain these on arrival in Cuba, reports suggest that it takes ages to process, so it’s probably best to get these in advance.

 

Insurance
Make sure that your aircraft insurance does not specifically exclude travel to Cuba – many do!

 

Foreign passengers
If you’re flying between the U.S. and Cuba with foreign nationals onboard – they are subject to the exact same rules as U.S. nationals in terms of meeting OFAC licensing requirements. The only exception is for Cuban citizens present in the United States in a non-immigrant status – they can travel to Cuba without having to tick any of those 12 OFAC boxes.

 

Time on the ground in Cuba
U.S.-registered aircraft are allowed remain in Cuba for up to seven consecutive nights. If you want to go for longer then you will need to get an export licence – that gets complicated.

 

US Airports of Entry for your return flight
Recent policy changes mean that aircraft can now depart to Cuba from any customs designated airport in the U.S. (this applies to both U.S. and foreign-registered aircraft). However, when you return to the US, as you will be entering the from the south, you will need to land at the first designated airport of entry that is nearest to the point of crossing the U.S. border or coastline; if you want to land elsewhere you will need to get a Border Overflight Exemption.

Here is the list of southern airports of entry, from US Code of Federal Regulations 19 122.24

More information: There are a ton of reports on Cuba in Airport Spy, which is where all of us in OpsGroup tell each other about the airports we’ve been to – good ATC, bad handlers, rip-off fees… think of it as the TripAdvisor of airports. Also, if you want to know exactly how to get your Cuba landing permit, check out our Permit Book – this tells you how to get a permit for each and every country in the world!

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