Tag: Venezuela

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.

Venezuela NOTAMs, where have you gone?

Last year, Venezuela partly stopped sending out Metars.

This year, they’ve gone one better, and stopped sending out NOTAMs entirely.

Anything with an SV** in front of it shouldn’t be high on your tech stop list at the moment, but for those that do need to operate to an airport in the country, or carry it as an alternate, this is definitely a problem.

How are you handling the outage? Comment below.

 

 

International Bulletin: B767 shot on approach to Rio, Updated SafeAirspace Map

B767 Shot on approach to Rio 

18JAN A B767-300 was fired on last night during approach to Runway 15 SBGL/Rio de Janeiro. One 7.62mm bullet lodged in the left wing. Read the article.

Updated SafeAirspace Risk Map 

18JAN We have updated SafeAirspacewith information for Aircraft Operators on The GambiaNorth KoreaBrazilUkraine, and Turkey.


GBZZ/The Gambia State of emergency declared on 17th January. Foreign citizens being evacuated. Banjul International Airport (GBYD/BJL) and land borders remain open, for now. More at safeairspace.net/information/the-gambia.

UKZZ/Ukraine Flight Service Bureau has issued an updated summary for Ukraine’s airspace. There are two risk issues in Ukraine. First: arms fire. Including MH17, multiple aircraft (the others all military) have been shot down since the beginning of the Donbass region war in 2014. The 10th ceasefire was declared in December 2016, but not holding. This risk is contained within the Dnipropetrovsk FIR – UKDV. The second issue affects the Simferopol FIR which is Disputed Airspace. (Ukraine:UKFV, Russia:URFV). In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. The ATC Center is in Simferopol, Crimea, and is now run by Krymaeronavigatsiya. Russia claims the airspace. Ukraine refuses to recognise the change, and asks crews to talk to Ukrainian controllers in Dnipro/Odesa ACC instead of Simferopol ACC. Four routes are approved by EASA through the high seas portion of the airspace.

KIAD/Washington and area airports – guaranteed busy during the Presidential Inauguration this Friday, Jan 20. Updated restrictions here. Departure slots required for aircraft departing IAD between Friday, Jan. 20 and Sunday, Jan. 22. Departure slots can be obtained through an IAD FBO of choice (Ross Aviation or Signature Flight Support). Slots will be divided equally between the two FBOs at IAD.

VZZZ/Southeast Asia Lunar New Year holiday season, which falls on 28th Jan. Travel-related delays and government office and business interruptions will peak 27 Jan to 01 Feb, and could last longer in Taiwan, Vietnam and China, where the holiday will be celebrated through 02FEB.

BGBW/Narsarsuaq A seasonal reminder that if you’re planning to use Narsarsuaq as a destination, alternate, or enroute alternate outside of the operating hours (MON-SAT 1000-1900z daily until 03APR), you must contact the airport in advance to apply for them to stay open for you:
Email: bgbw@mit.gl. Also make sure you file your ATC FPL including the AFTN address: BGBWZTZX.

EKCH/Copenhagen A copy of the AOC must accompany fuel release or expect an MOT charge of approximately $1.70 USD to be charged. Next destination must be shown on the fuel release or expect delays.

EGPH/Edinburgh, Scotland Until Apr 1st, you will need PPR to operate to Edinburgh, due to reduced parking capacity.

RPLB/Subic Bay will be closed for maintenance bewtween 0100-0800z until January 20th.

SKZZ/Colombia New Tower and ACC for Bogota. From 16th Jan – 15th Feb moving of Bogota’s ACC will take place. ATS/AIS/COM/MET/ATFM services transition process should not affect operations, however, due to the large change extent foreseen, some failures might occur in the process.  AIC 1/17 outlines contingency procedures in place

SVZZ/Venezuela has closed its land borders with Colombia and Brazil periodically in the last 12 months. Border closures occur frequently, often with short notice. The Venezuelan government will withdraw the 100 bolivar note (VEF 100) from circulation as of 20 January 2017.

LYBA/Beograd If you have any outstanding navigation fees in Serbia, better get them paid, or they’ll add a 9.88% interest charge.

HSSS/South Sudan Flight Service Bureau has issued an updated summary for South Sudan’s airspace: Conflict Zone. South Sudanese Civil War since 2013. The security situation in Juba has been relatively calm since the July 2016 crisis. Daily reports of fighting throughout the rest of the country. The security situation is especially unstable in the Equatorias in the south. MANPADS risk to overflights. In addition, the South Sudanese army has declared intention to shoot down Aircraft without permits. Most Authority guidance recommends min FL260. We think FL300 is a better minimum for overflights.

ZKKP/North Korea Flight Service Bureau has issued an updated summary for DPRK North Korea’s airspace: The level of tension on the Korean peninsula can change with little notice. Multiple missile launches in 2016, increasingly without prior notice to ICAO. The range of these has increased – previously safe airways B467 and G711 are now at risk. Over 1000 reports of GPS jamming issues reported by operators in the vicinity of the North/South Korean border. SFAR79 prevents US operators from operating west of 132E, other Authorities restrict operationseast of that line.

ZZZZ/Worldwide How have you been getting on with the new ICAO SID/STAR phraseolgies? In short, some countries are implementing, and others aren’t. What is your country doing? Tell us at bulletin@fsbureau.org.

 

View the full International Bulletin 18JAN2017

Midweek Briefing 04MAY: New US CBP Airport, Iceland ATC Strike continues

New US CBP Airport 04MAY A new US Customs facility opened in KMTH/Marathon on 20APR, to facilitate increased traffic to Cuba. Read the article.

Iceland ATC Strike continues 04MAY Icelandic controllers are in a pay dispute with Isavia, leading to multiple strike actions at BIKF/Keflavik and BIRK/Reykjavik. Last week BIKF was closed overnight at short notice. Read the article.


EHAM/Amsterdam and other Dutch airports will observe a two minute silence on ATC frequencies today, 04MAY, from 1800-1803Z. ATC will arrange traffic flow so that no aircraft will land or taxi during this period, meaning likely delays, albeit for a short period.

SECU/Cuenca, Ecuador remains closed after an E190 slid off the main runway on 29APR, latest estimate is no reopening before 06MAY.

CZZZ/Canada Visa-exempt foreign nationals can enter and exit Canada by air without an Electronic Travel Authorization until 29SEP2016. After that date, these travelers will need to obtain online authorization to visit.

BIZZ/Iceland Multiple ATC Strike actions for BIRK and BIKF are ongoing, check NOTAMS and with handler for latest. Read article.

TFFR/Guadeloupe has ongoing main runway closures due to WIP, current shown are 04MAY 0200-1015Z, 17MAY 1000Z- 18MAY 1600Z. Only helicopters will be allowed to operate during these periods.

UIBB/Bratsk has a fuel shortage until 31MAY, non-scheduled movements are by PPR only.

NWWW/Tontouta has an ATC staff shortage and requires slots for arrival until 31MAY, Tel +687 352437. Work on 11/29 is also ongoing, check NOTAMS for any current outages, which will close the airport.

EGGX/Shanwick is trialling transferring westbound flights direct to a HF frequency rather than via an initial VHF frequency, using CPDLC. The default frequencies will be HF 5649 H24, 2872 0000-0900 and 1800-2400, and 8879 0900-2100.

PAZA/Anchorage has published new procedures Eff 28APR for User Preferred Routes within the PAZA FIR, refer A0075/16.

SVZZ/Venezuela changed timezones on 01MAY to UTC-4. In addition, all public offices, including public ministries, will only operate on Mondays and Tuesdays until further notice.

TTZP/Piarco FIR is trialing ADS-C and CPDLC with ident TTZP until 31MAY. Flights entering the FIR east of 57W should log on 15 minutes prior to the boundary with TTZP.

UHSS/Yuzhno has advised that B777 aircraft are limited to 310T during the summer period.

UIAA/Chita is only available as alternate for one specific airline (Aurora) between 0930-2100Z. Outside these times ops normal.

WSZZ/Singapore has introduced a fingerprint clearance system to verify the thumbprints of arriving and departing travelers ages six and above at select immigration checkpoints. The system will be progressively implemented starting at the manned immigration counters of sea and land checkpoints, followed by air checkpoints until full implementation is completed in the months ahead. Travelers should be prepared for slightly longer immigration clearance times at manned checkpoints, especially during the initial implementation stage of the project.

YZZZ/Australia Border Force employees have been banned from taking industrial action at airports for three months; the threat of ongoing strike action caused much concern for operations in March.

RJTT/Haneda the airport authority has changed the number of slots available for general aviation aircraft. Effective 25APR, slots for GA during the daytime (0600-2259 local) will be increased to 16 total for arrival and departure (from eight in the past). Note that there are no slots restrictions for night time operations (2300-0559 local).

CYVR/Vancouver will have one of its main runways 08R/26L closed nightly between the hours of 05-13Z 08MAY-02SEPT for construction. During the day (13-05Z) the runway will have the ILS on 08R/26L out of service, along with no approach lighting on runway 26L.

SLZZ/Bolivia Certain medications prescribed for personal use are treated as narcotics in Bolivia, with severe penalties for import or export without a valid prescription from a doctor; make sure you carry a letter from a doctor describing the medical condition and any prescribed drugs and that they are in their original containers and clearly labelled.

EBBR/Brussels has partially reopened the departure hall, which has remained closed since 22MAR. 110 Check-in counters will be open in the airport departure hall along with an additional 36 counters that are housed in temporary buildings. The EBBR airport authority expects this will bring the airport up to 80% of capacity.

EZZZ/Europe Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania will begin a project to interface their ATC systems so they can handle a significant build-up of airspace traffic in the Black Sea area. New routes are expected by mid 2016.

LEZZ/Spain The Spanish F1 Grand Prix is being held from 13MAY-15MAY and will bring heavier than normal traffic to LEBL/Barcelona and LEGE/Girona.

HEZZ/Egypt Individual travellers will in the future require a visa before entering Egypt. The exact date of the implementation of this rule is not yet determined. The visa must be applied for from the Egyptian embassy and the consulate generals before departure.

GVZZ/Cape Verde Aviation officials issued a statement announcing that national airports are open and operational. The statement was released following reports that flight operations had been suspended at the country’s airports.

ORZZ/Iraq Iran canceled all flights to Baghdad following a breach of the International Area by protesters on 30APR. The demonstrations have caused problems for pilgrimage flights to Baghdad, and those flights will operate instead to ORNI/Najaf.

VIDP/Delhi has opened a new ATC tower (which is the country’s tallest at 60 metres). VIDP will also be starting construction on a 4th runway this year and is expected to be completed by 2018 which will increase the airport arrival rate to 105 landings an hour, and will mitigate the common airborne holding.

View the full International Bulletin for 04MAY 2016

Monday Briefing: Security in Caracas, Tripoli, UK Permit rules

Security issues rule out Venezuela, Libya Mar 23: SVMI/Caracas, Venezuela, and HLLT/Tripoli, Libya, should be off your tech stop or charter lists for the foreseeable future. Both airports have been subject to rising security risks over the last months, reaching a climax last week with a bomb attack on RWY 09/27 in Tripoli and increased civil unrest in Caracas.

New rules for UK Permits Mar 23 : Significant changes to the approval process for Landing Permits for the UK will take effect on 06 APR. CAA will take over the responsibility for issuing approvals from the Department for Transport (DFT). Also, previously, a cabotage objection could be raised by a group of UK Charter Operators – this is removed. A fee is likely to be charged by the CAA for permits from this point forward.

SVMI/Caracas, Venezuela Public unrest has raised tensions in the capital to the point where several airlines have suspended service, including Air Canada this past week. Coupled with the security issue is a payment issue, with the Venezuelan government not releasing ticket payments. SVMI remains open and operational, but not recommended. For tech stops, consider TNCC/Curacao just to the north.

Uxxx/Crimea Region. Following the referendum on 16MAR, Crimea is now officially Russian Territory. This places the Simferopol FIR under Russian Control, but service is still provided by Ukraine. Simferopol Sectors 3,4 and 5 are now controlled by Odesa, and Sectors 1 and 2 are controlled by Dnipropetrvosk. UKFF/Simferopol and UKFB/Sevastopol are closed to civil traffic. No decision has yet been made by the Russian CAA as to whether permits will be required to overfly Crimea. It seems unlikely that there will be any change to the present ‘no permit required’ situation in the coming weeks at least, though when Simferopol Airport reopens we would anticipate Landing Permits being required through Russia.

VTSP/Phuket – International restrictions due to construction until 31MAR. Slot and PPR require 48HR PN, Landing Permit requests should allow 10 days.

LIxx/Italy ATC Industrial action announced for 30MAR 1030-1430Z. For this and subsequent strikes, ENAC, the Italian provider, will accept a limited number of pre-arranged flights from each AO.

EHAA/Amsterdam FIR Due to Nuclear Summit in the Hague on 24 and 25MAR, most of the FIR is accessible by Prior Permission only, including all flights to EHAM, EHRD, EHEH. Contact nss.ppr@minienm.nl or +31 (0) 577453696.
LLOV/Ovda, Israel will be closed to all flights 01MAY-07MAY

DGAA/Accra, Ghana Until 23JUN, The main runway (03/21) is open daily from 0500-2300Z only; no traffic accepted outside these hours.

YPXM/Christmas Island is closed and unmanned at present due to a Cyclone.

HLLT/Tripoli, Libya was subject to a bomb attack on Friday. The device was placed on the centerline of RWY09/27 overnight and detonated with a timer. Most regular operators cancelled flights immediately, with no set date to resume operations.

OSDI/Damascus FIR – For those still overflying, Syria has closed airway L513 from BURSA to LEBOR UFN.
UK Charter Permits. Significant changes to the approval process for Landing Permits for the UK will take effect on 06 APR. CAA will take over the responsibility for issuing approvals from the Department for Transport (DFT). Also, previously, a cabotage objection could be raised by a group of UK Charter Operators – this is removed. A fee is likely to be charged by the CAA for permits from this point forward.

Turkey. Effective 10APR2014 Visa on Arrival is no longer available at Turkish Airports. Visitors must apply online through https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ for an e-Visa.

Australia. A reminder to all operators who are not ADS-B equipped, of the restrictions when operating into Australian Airspace effective from 15DEC13. If you not ADS-B equipped you must file with CASA, a Form 208 exemption application 14 days in advance of proposed operations into Australian Airspace. Then operations will be confined to the SSR radar coverage area extending from 200 nm north of Cairns down the East coast to 200 nm west of Adelaide. This is commonly referred to as the J curve. If you intend operating into the Brisbane or Melbourne FIRs from the west and north west of Australia, and are not ADB-B equipped you will be required to operate at FL290 or below.

URSS/Sochi Starting from 20JAN, including period of XXII Winter Olympic Games and XI Winter Paralympic Games 2014, airlines are obliged to send the passenger manifest with exact Name, Surname, Passport number and series, or other ID, Ticket number, 24 hours prior to departure and no less then 4 hours prior to departure – passenger manifest changes, when operating to Sochi International airport (IATA code-AER). Information should be sent to the following e-mails: Checkin_DIsp@aer.basel.aero, Chief_smena_SAB@aer.basel.aero. See NOTAM A3075, A4018.

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