Viewpoint: Takeoff To Kickoff -- Preparing For Travel To The World Cup

A France supporter waves national flags ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on Nov. 22, 2022. 

Credit: Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

The 22nd edition of the World Cup kicked off Nov. 20th with the final game on December 18th, and flight departments around the world have been gearing up to operate into Qatar to cheer on their favorite teams.

As with many other destinations and events around the world, operators that prepare in advance, are up to date on the latest information, and have their documentation readily available will experience a much easier, safer, and compliant trip.

International Procedures And Authorizations

First and foremost, operators must have a current International Procedures Manual. Check to see when your manual was last updated, if it has been more than a few months, you will want to research any updates that may have occurred, not only in Qatar but any countries or regions you may be overflying. Remember, for those traveling across the Atlantic, NAT DOC 007 was updated earlier this year. For operators who are subscribed to an update service, this research should already be done for you allowing you to skip this step.

Next, you will want to ensure the authorizations you hold are appropriate to your route of flight. European operators should consider the need for terminal and en route requirements while other registries may also need to consider oceanic authorizations. North, Central, and South American operators will also need any Atlantic-specific items, such as LOA/OpSpec B039 (NAT HLA for U.S. operators).
If you do not have these in place yet, you will likely have to consider alternate routing as there is no longer enough time to complete new approval requests. At AviationManuals, on average we see it takes approximately 1-3 months to receive most approvals.

There are a few additional resources and documents operators are encouraged to review and use to plan. These can be found in the Qatar AIP ( 
•    Qatar AIRAC AIP Sup 32/2022 (Fixed Wing General Aviation/Business Aviation Flight Operations)
•    Qatar AIRAC AIP Sup 26/2022 (Standard Routes Within the Doha FIR)
•    Qatar AIRAC AIP Sup 19/2022 (Managing Airport Slot Coordination During Football World Cup 2022)
These documents will provide crucial information on how to plan your route into Qatar as well as request slots and permits. NOTAMs should also be closely monitored including:
•    Airport NOTAMS (OTBD - Doha International / OTHH - Hamad International Airport) relating to airport restrictions and;
•    FIR NOTAMS (OTDF - Doha FIR) relating to traffic flow
•    Nearby FIR NOTAMs, such as OEJD (Jeddah), OBBB (Bahrain) and OMAE (Emirates).

Operators should also work with their flight planning service providers to ensure they meet any local requirements. Permits are required to operate in the kingdom and authorities have established a required airport slot program that should be booked in advance to ensure availability. Parking installations will also be limited, and operators should consider drop-and-go’s and reposition at nearby airports in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. Note that all these destinations may also require permits and slot requests.

Operational, Safety And Emergency Procedures

In the event of an equipment failure, an approved MEL in accordance with the latest revision of the MMEL is required by most countries to continue the operation of the aircraft. Use of the MMEL as an MEL is generally not accepted, so operators should strongly consider the use of a customized MEL. These days, a majority of AviationManuals clients that operate internationally are getting customized MELs.
You will also want to ensure the latest copy of your Company Operations Manual, Safety Management System (SMS), and Emergency Response Plan (ERP) are also available. A robust ERP coupled with your SMS Program is highly recommended to ensure you are ready with clear procedures and responsibilities for any incident or emergency so you can launch a safe and effective response to the situation.

Be sure to review your procedures before the flight to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. Effective communication between crews is key and remember that everyone is responsible for safety.

Finally, having your reporting forms in place and ready to use, such as your incident hazard reports, vendor feedback and company deviation reports will aid you throughout your trip. They also provide that crucial data and feedback down the line for future trips.

You should also, in accordance with your procedures, complete pre-flight and post-flight risk assessments and make sure you account for any specific factors related to the region.

SAFA Inspections

Once you are on-site, remember that Qatar is a participating member of SAFA. At AviationManuals we hear more and more operators talking about SAFA inspections so make things easier for yourself -- and the reviewing inspectors-- by planning in advance. Know where all your paperwork is located, where key SAFA inspection elements are located within your documentation and aircraft and be sure you have access to everything without the use of Wi-Fi. Having a fully compliant handbook that outlines your areas of compliance can go a long way to making a ramp inspection easier for you and the inspector.

With proper pre-planning and up-to-date documentation, you can go a long way to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable event for everyone. So, lace up, kick off, and let’s get into World Cup Fever.

Clément Meersseman, senior operations advisor,  

Clément Meersseman, senior operations advisor at AviationManuals, leads the Strategic Partnerships team and serves as the senior advisor, specializing in International Aviation Compliance, Procedures and Safety for the private aviation sector.