Flying to Australia and New Zealand

Both "Down Under" locations welcome bizav visits but costs for various services are high. Australia is the stricter of the 2.

By Grant McLaren

Sydney is top destination for many GA operators heading "Down Under." In addition to being among the world's most beautiful cities and harbors, this is also the commercial center of Australia.

Other than dealing with the relative remoteness and great distance between many locations, flying to, from and within Australia and New Zealand is not a difficult proposition from the operations perspective. Flight ops in that area are generally as easy and straight-forward as flying within North America, although there are important considerations to keep in mind. Some of these include charter permit challenges, ADS-B mandates, agricultural and quarantine requirements, and visa considerations.

"Flying to Australia and New Zealand has some unique and challenging obstacles, notably strict bio-security requirements that prevent and respond to pests and diseases," declares ExecuJet Flight Ops Dir Denis Crossley. "At some smaller and more rural airports, special pilot training is required. ADS-B mandates are now active in Australia for all operations above FL290, so recent ADS-B changes are significantly impacting operators not equipped with ADS-B."

Universal Aviation reps handle an arriving bizjet at SYD. Ground handing infrastructure and services are top notch at major airports of entry in both Australia and New Zealand.

Some of the most popular airports in Australia include SYD (Sydney), MEB (Essendon, Melbourne), MEL (Intl, Melbourne), BNE (Brisbane) and PER (Perth). In New Zealand, GA operators go to AKL (Auckland) and ZQN (Queenstown), although some head to the capital WLG (Wellington) or smaller destinations including ROT (Rotorua) and TUO (Taupo). Parking is generally not an issue at major airports in the region but may be problematic at smaller and secondary locations, including ZQN and HTI (Hamilton Island, Australia).

Permits, airport slots and PPRs

Private operators do not require landing permits for operation to either Australia or New Zealand. However landing permits are needed for charter ops to either country. Keep in mind that obtaining a charter permit for Australia can be a long and somewhat onerous process that may involve several weeks lead time to secure Transport Security Program (TSP) approval. "A 1st time charter operator should plan on 60 days lead time to obtain TSP approval," says UAS Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. "We're often able to assist in getting TSPs sooner than the official lead time and your support provider will be able to provide a template for this."

Hawker Pacific Sydney Ops Mgr Andy Gahan points out that TSPs may also be required for private operations if the owner is not onboard or the aircraft is not flying company employees on company business. Be aware that both Australia and New Zealand have strict cabotage rules, although these mandates generally apply only to charter.

"Operators can obtain overflight permits for Australia within 48 hours but charter operators flying to this country for the 1st time need to consider long lead times for approval," says Universal Australia GM Derek O'Reilly. "For airport slots, 24 hours is usually sufficient notification and we're often able to confirm slots within an hour. The only airport where preferred slots time may be an issue is SYD, particularly during peak periods of scheduled commercial operation."

Australia has airport slot requirements at SYN, BNE and MEL, while New Zealand currently has no airport slot mandates. Note also that PPR requirements are in place for ZQN. "You'll need parking allocated with PPR for any GA operation into ZQN," reminds Air Center One Chief Executive Robin Leach. "Lead time for this is about 48 hours."

Customs clearance and visas

Australia is the stricter of the 2 countries when it comes to visa mandates and customs and immigration clearance. All crew and passengers must have visas prior to arriving in Australia, while New Zealand does not have this same broad mandate.
"Upon international arrival to Australia you'll need to clear within the main terminal unless you've arranged off-terminal clearance (OTC) at the FBO. OTC must be applied for at least 48 hours prior to use. Late applications, or changes to passenger manifest, may result in OTC being denied," explains Crossley.

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, attracts consistent GA traffic year round but is not as frequently visited a destination as Auckland.

O'Reilly adds, "While FBO CIQ clearance in Australia is at discretion of the Border Force, there are usually no issues as long as you provide 48 hours advance notice. Although OTC approvals are never guaranteed, about 90% of international GA arrivals have been clearing at FBOs, with the others clearing via the main terminal."

Passengers flying to Australia can obtain electronic travel authorization (ETA), a process that usually takes only minutes. Certain nationalities, including citizens of China, must apply for traditional visas in advance, which takes longer. Flightcrew members may apply for crew travel authorization (CTA), which takes 3 to 5 days and allows unlimited entries. "CTA, once approved, is good for multiple entries for the duration of your passport validity," notes LeDuc. "However, if the crew arrives on a commercial flight with CTA, they'll need to carry a letter from the company stating that they'll be departing Australia as crew within 5 days."

Bombardier Global Express is seen here on final approach to at AKL.

"It's important to be aware of local customs and immigration clearance options and idiosyncrasies when operating to this region," says Jeppesen Global Vendor Relations Mgr Jan Hanna. "MEB is the more popular of the 2 Melbourne airports for GA as it's closer to town and has excellent support infrastructure.

But if you have more than 9 passengers onboard, you'll either need to clear at MEL or make a special application, 10 days prior, to bring the additional passengers through MEB. If you add a passenger and arrive at MEB with more than the allowed 9 pax, things will not go well."


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