The latest alerts published by OPSGROUP – changes specifically affecting international flight operations.
October 29 - Chiang Mai, Thailand (VTCC)The annual lantern festival is taking place this weekend. Although celebrated everywhere in Thailand, the folks up north really get into it. The authorities there have said that lanterns are only allowed to be released between 19-01 local time (12-18z) on the nights of Oct 31 and Nov 1. But they say that every year, and the rules aren’t always followed! So a heads-up that if you’re planning on operating to VTCC/Chiang Mai or nearby VTCT/Chiang Rai on these days (particularly after sunset) you might need to re-plan. Each year at VTCC/Chiang Mai, hundreds of lanterns regularly drop into the airport compound, and this year, multiple flights have already been rescheduled or cancelled during this period.
October 29 - USA (KZZZ)A civilian aircraft accidentally strayed into the forbidden airspace above a Presidential rally yesterday. A good reminder to check the FAA TFR site before heading off to fly. The aircraft was escorted out of the airspace by an F-16, which used defensive flares to get the pilots attention. So all in all, they just got a cool show, saw an F-16 up close (and probably had a serious telling off back on the ground).
October 29 - Singapore (WSZZ)Singapore and Germany have established a ‘Reciprocal Green Lane’ scheme allowing business and essential travel between the two countries. You will have to be resident in Germany or Singapore, and be travelling for official business purposes. The scheme is expected to expand to include other European countries as well.
October 29 - Chile (SCZZ)Border restrictions for Chile have been extended to at least November 13. Chilean citizens and residents are still allowed in, humanitarian and medevac flights are ok, and overflights are still allowed. SCEZ Notam A4274/20 has the full update, but it is just an extension of the previous ban.
October 29 - Philippines (RPZZ)Cyclone Goni is building over the Philippine Sea, and is already blowing over 70kts. It is expected to develop into a full hurricane through October 29, and is working its way westward towards the Philippines with landfall predicted for Sunday. The current conditions suggest it might build to a category 4 hurricane, bringing wind speeds of over 120kts, with significant rain, storm surges, and severe weather conditions. One to keep an eye on if operating in the region.
October 29 - Knock, Ireland (EIKN)The airport may not be on your radar, but is often used as a viable alternate for arrivals at EINN/Shannon when the Irish weather kicks in. So it is worth knowing that it has seriously restricted hours throughout November - opening only on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays for short periods. Check the Notams for details.
October 29 - Warsaw, Poland (EPWA)The airport is permanently adopting Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) procedures from October 29 onwards. The standard A-CDM stuff applies: strict timings must be adhered-to for the entire start-up process, otherwise your flight will drop out of the CDM system and you may get hit with a delay. For more info, check out EPWA Notam A4024/20.
October 28 - India (VIZZ)On October 26, the Indian CAA updated its ‘Open Sky Policy’ for cargo flights – the long standing agreement which allows foreign operators to fly freight services to India. From now on, all non-scheduled cargo flights must only land at one of six airports: VOBL/Bengaluru, VOMM/Chennai, VABB/Mumbai, VIDP/Delhi, VECC/Kolkata or VOHS/Hyderabad. Scheduled operations are not affected. Be sure to check that existing permits are still valid if planning a cargo op anywhere else in India.
October 28 - USA (KZZZ)Hurricane Zeta made landfall this evening over Southern Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane, with sustained winds of 90 knots. It is currently over New Orleans and moving inland towards Southern Mississippi. Impact to aviation has so far been minor. There are ongoing ATC closures at KNEW/Lakefront, KGPT/Gulfport, KMOB/Mobile and KHSA/Hancock. Gulf routes are open, but multiple ADS-B service issues have been reported. Forecasts indicate that Zeta will dissipate over land but still produce heavy rain across portions of the Southern and Eastern US in the coming days. Keep an eye on www.fly.faa.gov/ois/ for further operational updates.
October 28 - Akure, Nigeria (DNAK)The airport was closed for multiple days this week after unidentified offenders dug a large hole on the runway overnight. The damage was sufficient to render it unusable while repairs were carried out. It is thought to be the work of local ‘hoodlums’. The airport is now operational, but be vigilant for further criminal interference if operating there.
October 28 - India (VIZZ)India has extended its ban on international flights until at least November 30. Cargo flights and tech stops are still allowed, in addition to other essential traffic. Overflights are okay and you can still use India’s airports as alternates. Limited flights with a number of countries continue under special ‘bubble agreements’ (including the UK and US). Entry rules are tricky – essentially a foreigner requires a valid visa to get in, and tourism is still off the cards. For GA/BA, the ‘business visa’ appears to be the best shot. More information on border restrictions can be found on the US Embassy’s website (see link).
October 28 - USA (KZZZ)A large segment of Denver Center’s airspace (basically the north western portion) is currently ATC zero, and will remain so for an unusually long period – until 06:00 local tomorrow morning (12z). The closure is due to Covid cleaning. No air traffic services will be provided, and no IFR aircraft will be permitted in the affected airspace. Operations in and out of KDEN/Denver will not be impacted but expect unusual tracking in some cases. FDC Notam 0/0094 refers.
October 28 - Saudi Arabia (OEZZ)Attacks by Houthi rebels earlier this week, targeting OEAH/Abha and OEGN/Jizan airports along the Yemeni-Saudi border. On Oct 28, the US Embassy warned of a possible attack on Riyadh, before rescinding the warning a few hours later. For overflights of the OEJD/Jeddah FIR and hear ‘SCATANA RULES ARE NOW ACTIVE’ you need to be aware that these apply to you! You will likely be given a change of route directly out of the airspace, or will be directed to land at the nearest suitable aerodrome. The purpose is to clear the affected airspace of all civilian aircraft at which point they close down all nav aids and airports until the threat has been dealt with. Long standing airspace warnings remain in place for Saudi Arabia, with significant risk particularly if intending to operate in southern regions. For more info, check our article.
October 28 - Honduras (MHCC)If you fly through the MHCC/Cenamer FIR above FL200, there’s a new requirement coming on Oct 28, 2020 – when filing your flight plan, you must include the AFTN address MHFPZYZX. This is the address of a new automated system they’ve got, which will check if you’ve written your flight plan properly. If you have, you’ll get an ACK message, and the system will then fire it off to all of the individual countries within the MHCC/Cenamer FIR that you’ll be overflying / flying to. If you’ve got it wrong, you’ll get a REJ message, with the reason why, and you’ll have to file it again. Check our article for more info.
October 27 - Middle East (OZZZ)October 29 marks the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and is considered a major holiday across Middle East and other Islamic nations. Many service providers will be closed for the day, so check with your handling agents and service providers if planning to operate into an airport based in a region that observes this event.
October 27 - United Kingdom (EGZZ)Struggling to keep up with UK quarantine exemptions? So are we. Fear not, the UK FCO is your best source of info and you can view an up to date list by clicking the link. It is changed regularly so it is important you check back often. Highlights for the month of October: Denmark and the Maldives have been added to the exemption list, while Italy, Turkey and Poland were removed. Something else to be aware of - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own exemption lists that may differ. So, make sure you are look at the right one!
October 27 - Blackpool, United Kingdom (EGNH)There are multiple airport closures scheduled while ATC goes off watch throughout November. The affected periods are all less than an hour but occur multiple times throughout the affected days – November 5, 14, 17, 22 and 29. If you like Notams, you’re in luck – each day has its own. They start at EGNH C7551/20 and go from there. Worth having a look if you plan on visiting.
October 27 - Botswana (FBZZ)Good news from Botswana. It has been announced that international charter flights with foreigners will be allowed from next month, but only at FBMN/Maun and FBKE/Kasane. It will be the first easing of flight restrictions since the start of the pandemic. There will be special entry procedures, which have yet to be announced. In the meantime only cargo, humanitarian and repat flights are allowed. Only citizens and residents can come in, and must quarantine for 14 days. Handlers advise crew layovers are not currently possible.
October 27 - Myanmar (VYZZ)With an election on the horizon, and the continuing Covid crisis, the government has extended its ban on international flights and the issuance of all visas until the end of November. All previous landing permits have been cancelled. Cargo flights are still okay, along with tech stops (pax stay on board), hum and medevac. Crew can overnight but must isolate in the hotel, and you can still use VYYY/Yangon as an alternate.
October 27 - Santa Ana, USA (KSNA)A major evacuation is underway in the city of Irvine, California because of raging fires in Silverado Canyon and Orange County. So far, no reports of smoke or any impact on neighbouring KSNA airport operations, but caution if planning flights into this area as evacuation orders are in place, and significant fire fighting aircraft operations will be going on in the area.
October 26 - Oklahoma City, USA (KOKC)Cancellations have been reported due to widespread freezing rain. Major operators have been avoiding leaving aircraft on the apron overnight in an effort to evade significant accumulations of ice. The current TAF indicates that freezing rain will continue to be an issue for at least the next twenty four hours so further delays and disruptions can be expected.
October 26 - USA (KZZZ)Hurricane Zeta will strengthen as it moves away north from the Yucatan Peninsula before making landfall over the Northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, with winds exceeding 70kts. Imminent hurricane warnings are likely for southern regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Likely disruption to airport ops across the region extending from KMSY/New Orleans to KPNS/Pensacola. Gulf route closures are possible from today while the FAA has activated Telcons for Zeta, at 1230z and 2200z daily. Keep an eye out for operational updates at www.fly.faa.gov/ois/.
October 26 - Vietnam (VVZZ)Typhoon Molave has continued to strengthen into a major storm and will make landfall near Da Nang early on Wednesday, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 100kts. Its effects are likely to be widespread with over a million already evacuated in preparation for its arrival. Flight operations at VVDN/Da Nang are expected to be heavily affected, with further disruptions possible at airports throughout the country. Molave will have less an effect on Cambodia as it dissipates over land on Thursday.
October 26 - USA (KZZZ)There are plans to lower some restricted airspace which sit atop KVAD/Moody Airport and portions of South Georgia and North Florida. This would affect both VFR and IFR traffic to more than a dozen airports in the area, and pose new challenges for business aircraft operating in this heavily transited corridor. The NBAA are encouraging affected operators to provide feedback before the deadline expires on November 24. If approved, the changes will come into effect next summer.
October 26 - Saudi Arabia (OEZZ)From November 1, international flights carrying foreign pilgrims will be allowed having been banned since Hajj in July due to Coronavirus. This is expected to create significant demand for air travel to Saudi Arabia year round. There will be new protocols in place – only those between 18 and 50 will be allowed, and they will need a negative PCR Covid test that is less than 72 hours old along with proof of insurance and a return flight. They will also be required to book their pilgrimage in advance which will include at least three days of managed quarantine.
October 26 - Greece (LGZZ)Greece has extended its flight and border restrictions until at least November 8. Only European citizens and those on the EU safe list may enter (the US is not included). Aircrew are exempt along with a long list of essential reasons to travel. Passengers from a number of countries also require a PCR test that is less than 72 hours old – LGGG Notam A3156/20 has those details. Local agents advise that crew are free from testing and quarantine requirements.
October 26 - Europe (EZZZ)The EU has removed Canada from its “safe list” of countries, which means that Canadian tourists will pretty soon no longer be permitted into many European countries. Several have already updated their restrictions (Greece, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Estonia and Belgium are the ones we know about already), but more will follow - it might take a few countries a week or so to update their rules. The EU also removed Georgia and Tunisia from its “safe list”, so expect similar rules if trying to get pax to Europe from either of these countries. However, good news if travelling from Singapore - that’s been added to the list. So the “safe list” in full: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay.
October 26 - Finland (EFZZ)Some airspace closures planned on Thursday 29 Oct between 0700-1000z, affecting a small region in the Helskinki FIR along the border with St Petersburg and Murmansk. It will apparently have a ‘low operational impact’ - unless you happen to accidentally be in that area at the wrong time in which case you will be in trouble. So check AIP SUP 137/2020 for full info on the forbidden area, and for alternate routes if you are in or outbound from EFKI or EFKS airports around that time.
October 26 - Saudi Arabia (OEZZ)Saudi air defences intercepted more drone attacks on Sunday 25 Oct, launched by Houthi rebels who were targeting OEAH/Abha and OEGN/Jizan airports along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Frequent drone, rocket and missile attacks continue to be an issue in both the OYSC/Sanaa and OEJD/Jeddah FIRs, with Riyadh also targeted on multiple occasions. Long standing airspace warnings remain in place for Saudi Arabia, with significant risk particularly if intending to operate in southern regions.
October 25 - Helsinki, Finland (EFHK)Runway 1 (04R/22L) is closing for the winter, and is only scheduled to reopen in April 2021. Runway 3 (04L/22R) will be used for takeoffs and landings. With the reduced traffic numbers, this shouldn’t mean any delays, but you might experience unusual routings on arrival and departure. Runway 15 will be also used for landings when the wind favours it.
October 25 - Vietnam (VVZZ)Vietnam is in the firing range yet again this week, with the imminent arrival of Typhoon Molave. It is a powerful storm that passed over the Philippines during the weekend causing mass evacuations, heavy rain and strong winds. Molave will continue tracking in a westerly direction and impact the central Vietnamese coast on Tuesday before moving onto the flood-stricken Cambodia. Significant flight disruptions should be expected in the coming days.
October 25 - Mexico (MMZZ)Tropical Storm Zeta continues to strengthen over water approx 250nm southeast of Cozumel, and is expected to become a hurricane as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula late on Monday. A hurricane warning has been issued for the northern portion of Yucatan including Cancun. Operations at MMUN/Cancun are likely to be disrupted. Long term tracking shows that Zeta will impact the Northern Gulf Coast from Wednesday at slightly less than hurricane strength. Heavy rain should be expected from Southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
October 25 - Lagos, Nigeria (DNMM)Violent civil unrest continues. Over the weekend there were reports that roadblocks were set up on the main highway leading to the airport. Men armed with bladed weapons and sticks manned the barricades demanding cash from drivers and multiple buses were set alight after they refused to pay. So far over seventy people have been killed during the protests against police brutality, with further action likely in the near term.
October 25 - Poland (EPZZ)The sweeping ban on international flights from a long list of high-risk countries (including the US and UAE) has been extended until November 10 at the earliest. You can find the full list of affected countries in EPWW Notam C1049/20. The ban does not apply to cargo, ferry, medevac, hum, SAR or other state approved flights. Charter flights arranged by tour operators prior to October 14 are also allowed to go ahead. Everyone else is out of luck. The borders themselves are fully open to citizens of EU/EFTA states, in addition to those on the current EU ‘safe list.’ For everybody else there is a long list of special reasons why you can still enter. The US embassy has done a good job of summarising those. Aircrew and transit pax are exempt from all requirements.
October 25 - Argentina (SAZZ)International flights are finally resuming from November 2, starting with neighbouring countries. Flights to and from Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile will be permitted initially. Citizens/residents from these countries will be allowed to enter. For all other foreigners, no decision has been made yet. The ban is reviewed every few weeks. For the time being only citizens and residents can enter Argentina, with 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine or arrival.
October 25 - Paraguay (SGZZ)International flights have resumed at SGAS/Asunción, and foreigners are allowed. There are new entry procedures – all passengers must complete 14 days of self-quarantine, which can be reduced to 7 days if you have a negative PCR Covid test that is less than 72 hours old, and get tested again at the end of the week. People who are entering the country for less than 7 days (with proof of their return flight) are exempt from quarantine but must have the PCR test. Non-residents must also provide proof of health insurance. Local agents advise that crew require a PCR test to avoid being isolated in their hotel room until departure.
October 25 - Turkey (LTZZ)The US embassy has issued a new security alert. They have received recent reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings that specifically target US citizens and foreigners in Istanbul. They advise to use extra caution in areas where foreigners gather including shopping malls, and otherwise keep a low profile. The US Department of State retain their second highest level of alert for Turkey advising against all but essential travel.
October 25 - Madagascar (FMZZ)Passengers from nine major European countries can no longer board a flight to Madagascar – including tourism flights to FMNN/Fascene which resumed earlier this month. The ban affects all travellers from Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and Ukraine. It will remain in effect until further notice. FMNN/Fascene on the small island of Nosy Be remains the only airport accepting international passenger flights. The main airport FMMI/Ivato is only available for cargo and repat ops (FMMI Notam A1667/20 refers).
October 23 - Italy (LIZZ)Italy has a superb new website which works out whether or not you’re allowed in, and what the required quarantine will be when you arrive, based on your answers to four key questions. Italy’s Covid-related entry rules are some of the most complex in Europe, so instead of trawling through them manually, give the website a go instead (see link attached). One thing worth highlighting: all crew are allowed to enter and are exempt from quarantine.
October 23 - United Kingdom (EGZZ)The CAA have updated their flight monitoring codes for the UK. These are mainly for GA operators cruising close to controlled airspace but not requiring an ATC service. They tune in the controller frequency, whack the listening squawk code into their transponder and get updates from ATC if ATC need to tell them something (like if they have accidentally infringed on controlled airspace). These codes may be useful if you’re flying non-IFR, but also if you just want to know what kind of chatter is going on down below you.
October 23 - Ukraine (UKZZ)France has updated its big AIC on the overflight of conflict zones around the world, the only change being the advice for Ukraine. They have added airways M435 and M861 to the list of routes over the Black Sea where French operators are allowed to overfly. So there are now six permitted airways here: M854, M856, M860, L851, M435, and M861. French operators are “requested” not to overfly anywhere else in the UKFV/Simferopol and UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIRs in the east of the country.
October 23 - Europe (EZZZ)The clocks are about to change. At 2am on October 25 the clocks will go back as daylight savings ends for Europe. This means an extra hour in bed for some (not for those in Russia, Belarus and Iceland though - where the clocks never change!) For the US, daylight savings officially ends on November 1 so don’t get your times mixed up if you’re operating between the US and European countries at the end of this month.
October 23 - Inverness, United Kingdom (EGPE)Works are underway to replace the existing ILS systems at Inverness airport. Work is expected to be completed by end of January 2021, but until then you should check the NOTAMs daily to confirm if ILS is available. VOR/DME approaches are available on both runways during periods that the ILS is not functional, but your minimums will be around 400’ instead of 200’ so check that weather too.
October 23 - Italy (LIZZ)The strike across Italian airports is still going ahead today from 13-17 local time (11-15z). Good news though - LIML/Milan airport have cancelled their strike. LICC/Catania, LIRA/Rome Ciampino and LIPX/Verona airport strikes are still going ahead, with ground and airborne disruption expected, but no impact on international overflights.
October 23 - Syria (OSZZ)US drone strikes this week along the Syrian/Turkish border, targeting suspected militants. This area is particularly volatile, but there are multiple airspace warnings in place, including a total flight ban by the US FAA for all Syrian airspace. Do not fly here, and exercise caution if operating close to the border on the Turkish side. More info at Safeairspace.net.
October 23 - Tanzania (HTZZ)If you are operating there, extra caution for two reasons - elections are taking place October 28 and the US embassy has warned of protests, rallies and heightened political tensions. Second up, the immigration department has announced they will be cracking down on visa overstays, and are reducing visitor visas from 90 to 30 days.
October 22 - Afghanistan (OAZZ)There have been recent reports of military airstrikes in the northern region of the country in response to numerous attacks by Taliban insurgents on the ground. It is clear that the conflict between the state and militant groups remains active, and therefore the country’s airspace remains dangerous. KICZ Notam A0038/20 remains in force for US operators in the Kabul FIR – remain above FL330 and on established routes only. See safeairspace.net for more information.
October 22 - Auckland, New Zealand (NZAA)The airport will be closed to fixed wing traffic on November 4 from 23-05 local time (10-16z) for runway works. If you’re arriving after the published closure period, it is recommended you take extra holding fuel in case there are delays getting the runway up and running again (NZAA Notam B5787/20 refers).
October 22 - Paris Le Bourget, France (LFPB)The airport has two closures scheduled: October 25 from 03:00-06:00 local (01-04z), and then again on October 27 from 02:00-05:00 local (00-03z). During these times only medevac flights will be allowed. The closures are due to an agreement with the air traffic controllers.
October 22 - Phuket, Thailand (VTSP)A new AIP SUP has been issued with a full schedule of runway closures commencing on November 3 until late next year. The airport’s only runway will regularly close at night for six hourly periods throughout the year while maintenance work is carried out. The days and timings vary slightly, so if you are planning on arriving after 00:30 local (17:30z) be sure to check the schedule.
October 22 - Thailand (VTZZ)Effective October 22, Bangkok's two main airports VTBS and VTBD have adopted Airport Decision Making (A-CDM) procedures. In other words, operators will need to adhere to strict timings for the entire start-up and push back process, otherwise your flight can lose its allocated slot and you may get hit with a significant delay. The newly issued AIP SUP (see link) has all the details including how the system works, and what you need to do to follow the rules.
October 22 - Canada (CZZZ)Promising news from Canada. From November 2, a new rapid testing program is being launched that will almost entirely replace the need to enter quarantine on arrival. It will only be available at CYYC/Calgary initially and if successful will be rolled out to all major airports at a later date. Here’s how it will work: Pax will receive a rapid test on arrival and will only need to isolate for 24-48 hours until they get the result. If it’s negative they will be able to leave quarantine but will need to stay in Calgary for a week while they get monitored. They’ll receive another test after 7 days. Anyone who doesn’t want to participate, or tests positive will need to isolate for the full 14 days.
October 22 - Peru (SPZZ)From November 1, international flights from a bunch of new countries will be authorized. Passenger flights to and from the US, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina will all be allowed. Services to other neighbouring countries resumed earlier this month. Foreigners can enter Peru with a negative PCR Covid test that is less than 72 hours old, and do not have to quarantine. Local handlers recommend that crew get tested as well to avoid being stuck in their hotel room during the layover.
October 22 - Guinea (GUZZ)Danger to foreigners remains high in Guinea at the moment as political unrest and violent clashes continue. In Conakry there are reports of protestors starting fires, setting up roadblocks and spreading motor oil along main thoroughfares near the airport. Sporadic gunfire has been reported, along with rocks thrown at passing vehicles. A new security alert has been issued by the US Embassy advising citizens to shelter in place. GUCY/Conakry remains open, but crew should exercise caution if planning to operate there.
October 22 - Vietnam (VVZZ)Typhoon Saudel has continued to strengthen over the South China Sea. It remains on track to make landfall over the central Vietnamese coast on Sunday morning, with sustained winds of 60 knots and heavy rain. Significant disruptions should be expected across the country with operations at VVVH/Vinh, VVCA/Chu Lai and VVPB/Phu Bai likely to be the most impacted. It appears that China’s Hainan province will also be affected by severe weather as Saudel passes just to the south on Saturday night. The storm is expected to rapidly dissipate as it moves inland in the coming days.
October 21 - Khartoum, Sudan (HSSS)A three day strike will start on Oct 25 at the airport. Staff are asking the CAA to re-hire dismissed employees with fair working conditions. All workers at all airports across Sudan have been asked to participate, but military and humanitarian flights will still receive support. Check with your handling agent if planning an operation into Sudan during this strike to confirm what services will be available.
October 21 - Bermuda, Bermuda (TXKF)Hurricane Epsilon has defied expectations and rapidly strengthened into a category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of around 90kts. Fortunately for Bermuda it will avoid a direct hit, with Epsilon remaining over water well to the east. The TAF for TXKF/Bermuda Airport doesn’t look too bad - there’s a chance of gusting winds between 30-40kts later today as the hurricane passes.
October 21 - Senegal (GOZZ)An update on entry requirements which have changed recently. Although foreigners are allowed, the government has said that airlines are not allowed to carry foreign nationals from countries that have restrictions in place for Senegal. Residents and essential workers are exempt – but you will need decent proof such as a residency card or letter from an employer to get in. The rule does not currently affect US or UK citizens. All crew and eligible passengers must have a negative PCR Covid test that is less than 5 days old (reduced from 7). Look out because from October 22, testing is no longer available on arrival. Fortunately, no quarantine is required.
October 21 - Lagos, Nigeria (DNMM)Violent protests against police have continued throughout the city, despite a strict curfew. There have been multiple casualties in the last few days. Although DNMM/Lagos has remained opened, a number of international operators have cancelled flights due to disruptions in the area. Protestors attempted to block access to the airport earlier this week. The situation is not under control, and a state of emergency has been extended until at least Sunday.
October 21 - Hong Kong, Hong Kong (VHHH)A new AIC has been published, introducing changes to the way ATC will issue SID and STAR clearances from November 5. They are consistent with the procedures found in ICAO Doc 4444. Here’s what you need to know. When flying a SID or STAR, if you are cleared to an altitude or level and hear the word 'via' then it means you need to still comply with all published altitude and speed constraints on the chart (even if assigned a level that takes you through them). ATC need to hear you read this back. Also, a STAR clearance alone does not authorize you to descend - you still need a separate clearance for that. Finally, if ATC have been assigning you speeds and then tell you to resume ‘normal’ or ‘published’ speeds, these both mean the same thing - you need to start following the speed limits on the chart again.
October 21 - Bolivia (SLZZ)Three of Bolvia's biggest airports, SLLP/La Paz, SLVR/Santa Cruz and SLCB/Cochabamba will be closed to most flights for the next two days due to an ATC strike. Both airports published Notams only this morning warning of this. Some flights will still be accepted: emergency, cargo, tech-stops, humanitarian and medevac flights. But for everything else, the airports are effectively closed until Friday morning, Oct 23.
October 21 - Belarus (UMZZ)Belarus is getting a new aerodrome. UMIO/Orsha will open for operations on November 5. It is actually the old Bolbasova air base fully renovated with a 3001m runway and CATII approach available on runway 05, and CAT I available on runway 23. Orsha will be used primarily as a cargo hub. The positioning of the airport also means a new TMA, and changes to the Mahilion and Viciebsk TMAs.
October 21 - Portugal (LPZZ)Portugal is changing the limits of Class G airspace around LPPT/Lisbon and LPCS/Cascais airports. The airspace used to be limited to FL055/MSL over the High Seas and 1500’-MSL within a 30nm radius of LPPT. In order to segregate traffic flows and accommodate increased traffic numbers into Cascais, they are redefining the lower limit to 1000’/AMSL and extending it further over the High Seas. What does this mean for anyone operating into LPPT or LPCS? Well, hopefully better traffic flows and separation.
October 21 - Georgia (UGZZ)On November 5 Tbilisi FIR will be getting new RAD Promulgation to help optimise airspace… or in plain English there will be a new point LURIS which you can plan to use.. It is available between FL225-FL660. For aircraft entering the FIR, you can expect to be cleared to an EVEN FL, and for aircraft exciting expect an ODD FL.
October 21 - Frankfurt, Germany (EDDF)A new arrival comes into operation on November 5 - the FAWUR STAR which replaces the ASPAT STAR. The main difference aside from the name is the adoption of T161 to connect the STAR. This will help optimise arrivals for Frankfurt, and improve hand-over between Munchen and Langen ACCs. So if you are operating into Frankfurt from November 5 onwards, make sure you fly the right arrival.
October 21 - Philippines (RPZZ)The Philippines continue to ease up on restrictions, with RPVI/ Iloilo airport now allowing unlimited flights and passengers in. The country remains closed for tourism, but people stranded in the Philippines, and Filippinos stranded outside now have a greater means of travelling home.
October 21 - Bermuda, Bermuda (TXKF)Tropical Storm Epsilon is now Hurricane Epsilon, and while he is remaining over the water, the impact on Bermuda is intensifying. Forecast wind speeds exceeding 80kts, significant weather conditions and disruptions can be expected in the early hours of October 23 as the hurricane passes to the east Bermuda.
October 21 - Israel (LLZZ)More reports of increased military activity along the Gaza strip, and further escalation is apparently likely. The Israel Defence Forces took retaliatory action yesterday after a rocket was fired, and numerous airstrikes have been taking place. With overflights opening up across Israel, make sure you steer clear of all prohibited areas along the Gaza strip and monitor this situation for further escalation.
October 20 - United Kingdom (EGZZ)Storm Barbara has arrived over the UK, bringing heavy rain and gale force winds to Central England and Northern Ireland. The met office has issued storm warnings with wind speeds expected to reach 55kts in some areas. Multiple flood alerts have been issued across the UK, with particularly heavy rain expected in the Midlands. Flight disruptions should be expected over the next twenty-four hours.
October 20 - Guinea (GUZZ)Presidential elections took place in Guinea on October 18 and since then tensions have been running high. A candidate has proclaimed himself the winner before all the votes were counted, and people aren’t happy about it. Violent clashes and unrest have been reported, particularly in the capital Conakry. There are reports of multiple casualties. Both the US and UK are now advising their citizens to avoid travelling there unless it is absolutely necessary on account of the ongoing demonstrations and Covid state of emergency.
October 20 - London Heathrow, United Kingdom (EGLL)Heathrow is launching the UK’s first pre-departure airport testing facility this week. Passengers will be able to get a rapid Covid test at the airport and receive the results within an hour. It is only available for passengers travelling to Hong Kong and Italy initially, but is expected to be offered to all travellers in due course. It promises to be a convenient solution to both passengers and crew travelling to countries who require a negative test result on arrival. A head’s up though – it is not the same thing as a PCR test (i.e. swab up the nose) which many countries still specifically require. So, make sure you do your homework first. Each test will cost £80 ($100 USD), and must be booked in advance.
October 20 - Vietnam (VVZZ)Vietnam is bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Saudel, which will strike its central region on Sunday bringing winds up to 50kts and significant rain. The region is still reeling from the effects of a series of storms earlier this month. Significant flight disruptions should be expected particularly at VVCA/Chu Lai, VVPB/Phu Bai and VVVH/Vinh. MET reports for VVDN/Danang and VVTS/Ho Chi Minh airports are already showing reducing visibility and heavy rainfall. If the storm tends further to the north, China’s Hainan Province may also be affected in the coming days.
October 20 - Teterboro, USA (KTEB)Due to ongoing maintenance there are frequent runway and taxiway closures scheduled each week. The good news is that full closures are pretty rare. If you are planning to operate there, you can access bulletins online that are issued weekly and will give you a head’s up to what to expect and when, along with some nice clear pictures. You can view the latest by clicking the link.
October 20 - Azerbaijan (UBZZ)There are reports that Azeri forces have intercepted two unmanned Armenian drones. The first was targeting the country’s second largest city, Ganja, while the second was targeting a region further to the east. Both locations are near the waypoint ADEKI – currently considered the safest routing for aircraft entering and exiting the Baku FIR in the West. The drones are suspected of being ‘loitering munitions’ meaning that they remain in the area for some time before selecting a target and it is unclear how high they able to fly. Further attacks can be expected, so continue to monitor the situation closely if planning to operate in the area.
October 20 - Georgia (UGZZ)International flight restrictions continue to ease. From October 31, passenger flights from Qatar and a number of European countries will be approved. This will include flights from Poland, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Lithuania. The rules are quite specific though – your flight must originate from an approved airport, and you must land at either EGTB/Tbilisi or UGKO/Kutaisi. UGGG Notam G0195/20 has those details. Until then flights are only approved from EDDM/Munich, LFPG/Paris and EVRA/Riga. Ferry and cargo flights are exempt, along with tech stops. Essential traffic is also excused including state, medevac, SAR and emergencies. Borders are currently closed to most foreigners, but there is a long list of exceptions. You can view those along with current entry requirements by clicking the link.
October 20 - United Kingdom (EGZZ)Wales will be going back into a national lockdown from Oct 23 to Nov 9. People will be told to stay at home and restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops will be shut. As far as flight restrictions go, the only tangible change seems to be that travel for tourism will no longer be permitted. EGFF/Cardiff airport is set to remain open, but only essential travel will be allowed. Local handler Global Trek Aviation has reported that tech-stops will still be allowed. The same rules that Wales introduced back in June still stand: 14 days self-isolation required unless travelling from an exempt country, crew are exempt.
October 19 - Thessaloniki, Greece (LGTS)The long awaited runway extension work has finally finished, and Runway 10/28 has re-opened for commercial use. It now features 11,286’ (3440m) of asphalt meaning the airport can accommodate nearly ninety percent of commercial aircraft types. Runway 10 features an ILS, while non-precision approaches can be expected on Runway 28.
October 19 - France (LFZZ)Operation Balbuzard (which means Osprey in English) is an ongoing live firing exercise that has been taking place throughout the month. A large restricted area is being activated at all levels from October 20-22. The affected airspace is off the coast of South Western France, adjacent to the LFBC/Cazaux airbase. The restrictions will activate daily between 13:30 and 18:00 local (11:30-16:00z). If you’re in the area, keep an eye on the notams in the coming days as they are subject to change.
October 19 - USA (KZZZ)The 2020 US Masters Golf Tournament will take place in Augusta, GA from November 9 to November 16. The FAA has released preferred arrival and departure routes and special procedures for all four airports in the region: KAGS/Augusta Regional, KAIK/Aiken, KDNL/Daniel Field and KHQU/Thomson. FBO reservations are not required, but strongly recommended. You can view the FAA’s full briefing by clicking the link.
October 19 - Philippines (RPZZ)A strong new depression has formed over the Philippine Sea. It is tracking towards the west and expected to make landfall north of Manila on Tuesday, where it is likely to bring strong winds and heavy rainfall. Look out for flight disruptions at RPLL/Manila and RPLC/Angeles City, in addition to regional airports in the north of Luzon. The system will then strengthen over the South China Sea and may become a Typhoon this weekend as it approaches the central Vietnamese Coast.
October 19 - Bermuda, Bermuda (TXKF)Tropical Storm Epsilon has formed 630nm to the south of Bermuda and is tracking towards the island, where it is expected to become a hurricane as it approaches late on Thursday. The extended tracking is difficult to predict but it is likely to pass to the east of the island and cause disruptions at TXKF/Bermuda with windspeeds that exceed 80kts. Epsilon will then remain over water with no effect on the US Eastern Seaboard.
October 19 - Italy (LIZZ)A strike has been announced on October 23 which will affect LICC/Catania, LIRA/Ciampino, LIML/Milan and LIPX/Verona. It will occur between 13:00 and 17:00 local (11 – 15z) and will include ATC personnel. Overflights will not be affected, and normal services will be provided to intercontinental flights and essential traffic. However, anticipate both airborne and ground based disruptions. You will find all the info in the relevant notams (see link).
October 19 - Nigeria (DNZZ)Widespread violent protests against police have escalated across the country including Lagos and Abuja. An emergency 24 hour curfew has been declared closing all businesses and schools until further notice. ln Lagos yesterday, hundreds of protestors attempted to block road access to DNMM/Lagos airport. Security alerts have been issued advising foreigners to avoid all unnecessary visits until the situation improves.
October 19 - Ukraine (UKZZ)From Oct 27, US operators will be allowed to overfly Crimea again. The US FAA has published an updated Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) lifting all restrictions for the UKFV/Simferopol FIR, as the security situation has sufficiently improved there. But the ban on flights in the eastern part of the UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR will be extended for another year due to a continued threat of arms fire in the region. Check our article for more info.
October 18 - Philippines (RPZZ)Travel restrictions continue to ease. From October 21, the ban on non-essential outbound travel will be lifted, allowing Filipino citizens to depart the country freely again. They will require proof of insurance, return tickets and a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of travelling. There has been no change to entry requirements – foreigners are only allowed if they hold long term visas. All passengers are swab tested on arrival and must enter controlled quarantine for 14 days. Both scheduled and charter international flights are permitted, but with prior approval from the CAAP. Passenger numbers may be capped for screening purposes. There are no restrictions on emergency, cargo and medevac flights (RPLL Notam B2678/20 refers).
October 18 - Australia (YZZZ)The first non-quarantine flight from New Zealand to Australia landed on October 16 at YSSY/ Sydney. The agreement is not yet reciprocal with anyone returning to New Zealand still required to isolate in a hotel for 14 days, so hardly a grand re-opening just yet. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction.
October 18 - Turkey (LTZZ)A live firing exercise took place over the weekend at the coastal city of Sinop – located at the most northern point of Turkey’s Black Sea Coast. A sophisticated Russian made anti-aircraft weapon system was tested with at least one live missile being fired. Notam airspace restrictions were issued for the exercise, but the tests appear to have angered the US government. It is suggested that the weapon violates shared NATO defence agreements, and if operationalised, would result in ‘serious consequences.’ The truck-mounted system is capable of targeting aircraft over 200nm away, as high as FL900. As for Turkey’s motivation to buy the equipment? It's unclear but likely a political statement of defensive strength to the rest of the world. Keep an eye on the Turkish Notams for future testing.
October 18 - Azerbaijan (UBZZ)The situation with Armenia remains volatile. A fragile cease-fire agreement was announced over the weekend following heavy fighting from both sides. However, tensions remain high. Both sides have been using ballistic weaponry to indiscriminately attack civilian and military interests near the border. On Saturday, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja, was once again struck by long range Scud missiles causing multiple casualties. Its airport was badly damaged by artillery fire earlier this month. For now, airspace warnings remain firmly in place, with Azerbaijan making no guarantees that the conflict will not spill over into other areas. Continue to monitor the situation closely.
October 18 - Iraq (ORZZ)The FAA has extended its airspace warning on Iraq until October 2022. The re-issued Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) prohibits all US civil operators from overflying the Baghdad FIR below FL320. A head's up though, you still can’t go. The long running FAA Notam (KICZ A0036/20) which completely bans traffic at all levels still stands. The difference between the two is added flexibility should the security situation improve. Based on a recent flare up in hostilities between local militia and US forces, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
October 18 - Dhaka, Bangladesh (VGHS)Due to a commercial dispute, from October 25 all internet and data services will be disabled between the hours of 10:00 and 13:00 local each day until an agreement can be reached between internet service providers and the city’s government. It is possible that the cellular network may also become overloaded as a result. Impact to airport operations should be expected while the outages continue.
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On this tab, we’ll add the most useful resources for Crews, Dispatchers, and ATC. If you have something to suggest, please let us know. A work in progress for the moment.
Aircrew and Dispatch Resources
Operational – General Guidance
If you want to know what the restrictions are for specific countries, we recommend the following:
1. Check the Notams! We never thought we’d say it, but we are seeing these starting to improve, with many countries issuing Notams with specific information about exactly what kind of flights are allowed. Make sure to check the FIR ICAO code of the country (check here if you’re unsure what code to use). Search the Notams using the updated FAA Notam Search site; or if you prefer the old-fashioned version, use this site instead.
2. Check out the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. The UK has eyes on the ground pretty much everywhere. Each country has a dedicated page, with a specific section on the coronavirus and the latest restrictions on inbound travel, which gets updated regularly.
3. The same goes for the US. If the US has an embassy somewhere, the chances are they will be issuing alerts when there are changes to the travel restrictions there. Click on a country from the list, and then click on the ‘News & Events’ tab for that country, on the top-right side of the page.
4. If the UK and the US both come up empty-handed, Australia might be able to sort you out. They have their own government travel advisory website, which lists inbound travel restrictions. Particularly useful for some of the more out-of-the-way places in the Pacific Islands.
5. Trip support provider Universal have a page with all the latest coronavirus-related restrictions, with a particular focus on the impact to business aviation. From the main page you can navigate to separate pages for different regions around the world (the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America, Europe, Middle-East & Africa, and Asia-Pacific), and really drill down into the latest restrictions country-by-country. Most of this info comes from Universal’s vast network of local agents at airports around the world, so it’s a bit more pertinent to aviation than the more wide-ranging travel advice issued at government level (i.e. the UK FCO, the US embassies, etc).
5. Check out IATA’s dedicated webpage. Updated daily.