Flying a business jet into a war zone like Afghanistan has its dangers. Most charter service companies would decline a flight there.
JetFlite International (JFI), a leading provider of aircraft management and charter services worldwide, in April received a request from a Gulfstream 200 aircraft owner to fly from Moscow to Kabul for a two hour meeting.
“The trip went off without a hitch,” said Bill Cripe, JFI chief executive officer. “It literally went perfect. The trip was entirely in our hands. We knew what was going on with the trip in real time every step of the way.”
Over the past two decades, JFI has operated thousands of flights to practically every corner of the globe. International flights accounted for nearly 55 percent of JFI’s total aircraft charter business last year with flights to more than 35 countries including Algeria, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
JFI Dispatcher Shawn Fairbairn said when the request came in for the Afghanistan flight the first thing JFI had to do was find a handler in Afghanistan who works with private aviation and then quickly figure out was is required to fly in to the country.
“We knew who to contact and were able to secure the proper agencies and obtain the required permits in under 72 hours,” Fairbairn said. “It may have taken others at least a week.
“Of course our major concern was security. We received a flight briefing that the Kabul airport controlled by the military and its boundaries would be secure. However, the approach into the airport is not secured because it goes over mountains. The pilot had to figure out the right flight path so that he could come in high enough and not catch any flack. Once on the ground the aircraft owner had his own pre-arranged security.
Fairbairn explained that the only thing he found that was restrictive was the permitting. “You had to keep to your permit,” he said. “If your slot required you to get there at 10 Zulu, you had to be there on time or keep the handler and permitting agency up to date in real time with any changes. They wanted you to get in and out of there.”