Addressing the competition for fueling at OMDB, Mark Keiswetter, a charter pilot based in Doha, Qatar, who often flies a Hawker 900 to Dubai, added that “There are multiple service providers in Dubai, and we'll often tell them, 'Whichever truck gets here first gets the sale!'” Other than that, Keiswetter claimed, “Dubai has good equipment and good people and a good system in place that's efficient.”
Bart Gault, an independent contract pilot typed in several long-range business jets with considerable experience flying into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, noted that the “big difference” between the two locations is that “Dubai is much more security-conscious. In Dubai, you have to have a security clearance just to go to the airplane — and it takes 12 to 24 hr. to get one. This applies only if you want access to the aircraft during your stay. Departing, you can go to the airplane without the security clearance, but seldom will they allow you to go back inside the terminal after that.”
OMDB is an extremely busy airport, Gault emphasized. “It will take some time to get fueled, as the fuelers work on a schedule to feed a lot of airplanes. You may be able to fuel on arrival, but don't count on it. If a passenger is late arriving, the flight plan can be amended; however, if a passenger arrives early and wants to leave early, you may run into the fueling problem. My SOP was to be at the airport no less than an hour and a half to 2 hr. prior to departure.”
Dubai International is equipped with a pair of 13,123-ft.-long runways oriented 12/30. Like many fields in the Middle East, OMDB is huge with lots of real estate to be traversed getting to or from a runway. Thus, Gault said, there can be “taxiing issues” at the airport. “They try to limit one runway for takeoffs and one for landings, meaning that you will have a long taxi — 10 or 15 min. — to or from the FBOs. Your arrivals will be converted to vectors for direct approaches — or at least that's been my experience at Dubai. ATC may assign speed restrictions due to the mixed traffic.”
Catering is available at the airport by Emirates Airlines and from luxury hotels downtown. Dixon pointed out that congestion at OMDB is often tied into public events taking place in Dubai, so it's a good idea to plan your trips well in advance, noting the events schedule. It can take 45 min. to an hour to get downtown from the airport, which is about 30 sm away.
ICAO procedures are applied across the board in the UAE. Arriving, “you may have to hold, depending on the time of day,” Gassaway said. “There's lots of traffic from and to Europe . . . much of it generated by Emirates Airlines, which has completed a new terminal at OMDB — Number Three — just for its own use.
“There are preferred routings between the UAE and Europe,” he continued, “some of which are one way, so be careful in your flight planning. Entry points may not match for overflight and landing, so FIRs and entry points have to be spot-on. [See Jeppesen data for preferred routes.] Going from London, many operators still use Turkey and Iran for overflights. Iran, actually, is fairly liberal in issuing overflight permission.”
If no parking is available at OMDB, operators will most likely be deviated over to the new airport, Al Maktoum International-Dubai World Center (OMDW). It currently hosts a single FBO, Executive Flight Center. “There has been talk of moving general aviation from Dubai International to the new airport, and the other two FBOs at OMDB will have to build facilities there,” Dixon said. Perhaps as a harbinger of that, this month the fourth Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference and exposition is taking place at the new airport.
As “higher costs will apply” if operators are required to reposition their aircraft from Dubai International to Al Maktoum, Dixon recommended a third airport in the emirate, nearby Sharjah International (OMSJ, immediately northeast on the Gulf coast), as an option for parking, adding that, in non-rush-hour traffic, “there are good highways to get you into town in 20 min. The terminal has been redone and is more general aviation-friendly. But be advised that between 1600 and 1800, it can be very congested due to Emirates Airlines traffic.”
Finally, Gault offered some props for the UAE's ATC establishment, which despite the congestion that affects the system, is often able to be flexible with transiting operators. “ATC will work it out — I've never had a long delay due to ATC issues. Recently we did a tech stop at Dubai on a flight between Ahmedabad, India, and London, and the flight plan filed in India had a mistake in it. ATC discovered the error and offered to make the adjustment while we were taxiing. At most airports, they wouldn't do that.” BCA