Qatar is one of the most important business destinations in the Middle East. The country has a strong economy with the highest GDP per capita in the world, the lowest unemployment rate worldwide, and the world’s third largest reserve of natural gas.
Qatar has recently begun to diversify its economy away from the oil and gas industry. The country currently has huge investments in the construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors. They’re also building its knowledge based economy, with many international universities campuses located in Doha. Qatar is also being promoted as an international tourism and sport destination, having hosted many sport events over the last few years, and being the host country of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Is known for its achievements in the aviation industry, with its major airport, Hamad International ( OTHH ), being the first airport purposely built for the A380 aircraft. The airport has a planned capacity to accommodate 50 million passengers and 360,000 aircraft annually, and its national carrier, Qatar Airways, is the first airline to operate the A350 aircraft, is the recipient of SKYTRAX 5 stars airline rating, and has been voted the best airline in the world for multiple years.
Based on the above, it’s no wonder that so many business flights are operated to Doha all year round. In this article, I would like to clarify the regulatory and service environments that business and private jet operators should take into consideration when planning their flights.
Private and charter flights planning to operate to Qatar (even for a technical landing) require a landing permit. To obtain the landing permit, a request should be made to the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, which is responsible for the issuance of the permit. This request must include full passenger details including operator name, aircraft, and flight details, in addition to the purpose of the flight and a sponsor letter from the local party receiving the flight in Qatar. The letter content must conform to the landing permit application details, and it must be signed and stamped by an authorized signatory on official letterhead.
Your ground handler cannot sponsor your flight. It is the responsibility of the company or the entity you are flying to meet and who invited you to visit Qatar to sponsor the flight. A hotel reservation is insufficient as a receiving party sponsor letter.
An application for a landing permit must be submitted to the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority at least 72 working hours before the intended day of operation. Landing permits on short notice can be obtained in some cases at the discretion of Qatar Civil Aviation Authority.
When operating to Qatar, the following certificates must be valid and must be carried onboard the aircraft at all times: registration, airworthiness, insurance, and noise certificates, and also radio station license and Air Operator Certificate.
Doha International Airport ( OTBD ) is the old international airport of Qatar and served as the main international airport of Qatar until only last year, when Hamad International Airport ( OTHH ) opened.
OTBD is the airport where all general aviation flights operate to. To operate to OTHH, the flight must be diplomatic, and a diplomatic landing permit is required from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
OTBD is not a slot coordinated airport, and parking space is available, especially after the Qatar Airways hub was moved to OTHH.
Both airports operate 24 hours, and both offer entry with customs and immigrations facilities available around the clock.
In OTBD, there is a premium terminal that passengers and crew can be cleared through at an additional charge per flight. This terminal used to be the first and business class terminal for Qatar Airways flights. However, after Qatar Airways operations moved to OTHH, only this terminal was left in OTBD.
Qatar Aviation Services, a subsidiary of Qatar Airways Group, is the only ground handling company operating in Qatar.
The level of handling services is good and meets international standards, as airport staff who are well trained to deal with VIP flights will meet and assist the flight.
It’s possible to extend credit facility for all the payments, including handling charges, airport fees, catering and transportation charges through your third party flight support service provider.
Transportation and Hotels:
Airside VIP transportation service is available for VIP passengers. Local taxis are available at landside of the airport. Taxis are air-conditioned and are normally in good condition.
The local ground handler does not arrange private transportation. Chauffeured transportation companies are available to arrange VIP transportation when required.
In general, the State of Qatar is a safe place to operate to. The airport is under controlled government security. No private security is allowed in the airport.
There are many 5 stars hotels that meet international standards in Doha. ORYX Rotana hotel is a very good hotel that is located near the airport.
Crew can enter and stay for 72 hours only, without the requirement of a visa. Of course, the crew must be on the flight general declaration, in uniform, and holding their company crew ID. It’s not possible to extend the crew visa beyond the 72 hour period, so it’s better to obtain a visa prior to the arrival if the aircraft is planned to stay for more than 72 hours in Doha.
Besides nationals and residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates), nationals of 33 countries are allowed to enter Qatar with a single entry visa issued upon arrival that is valid for one month. The countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, UK, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, and Vatican.
Passengers of other nationalities require a pre-entry visa before arrival into Qatar.
The authorized fuel supplier in Qatar is Qatar Jet Fuel Company (QJET). Fuel charges can be paid in cash, in Qatari Riyals, or in United State Dollars, or by credit card. If the aircraft operator has no direct contract with QJET, then major fuel cards are accepted, and fuel releases from reliable aviation fuel resellers are accepted as well.
It’s better to send the fuel release to the local ground handler in advance so that the handling agent can coordinate with QJET for the prompt refueling of the aircraft.
JET A1 fuel is available in both OTBD and OTHH, while AVGAS 100 is only available through arrangements at OTBD only, through Qatar Aeronautical College.
Visiting a country with such high achievements and ambitions such as the State of Qatar will definitely be a memorable trip. Besides the business happenings in the country, Qatar hosts many cultural and artistic events throughout the year. Plan your trip to Qatar well in advance and it will be an unforgettable experience you will strive to repeat.
Originally published at Blue Sky News.