Two carriers at HB Airport granted customs licenses for private international flights

A new customs decision means select business titans, famous faces, politicians, and medical staff could soon be flying directly into Hawke’s Bay from overseas without having to navigate ‘ad hoc’ situations.

As of January 11, two jet base operators at Hawke’s Bay Airport (Air Napier and Skyline Aviation) have been cleared by New Zealand Customs Services to welcome specific private aircraft from overseas due to their new Customs Controlled Area licenses.

But this doesn’t mean Hawke’s Bay will host New Zealand’s newest international airport, nor does it mean any old jet or passenger plane can fly in without meeting specific conditions.

A gazette notice states that the international arrival and departure from New Zealand of private crafts at the airport is limited to non-scheduled passenger flights with a maximum of 14 passengers and crew only, to the exclusion of air freight operations; and medical flights, including flights carried out by air ambulances and flights carried out by medical staff transporting donor organs.

It also states that Customs Controlled Area licensees operating aircraft services at Hawke’s Bay Airport, which includes operators Air Napier or Skyline Aviation, must get Customs’ prior approval for any flights arriving in or departing from New Zealand at Hawke’s Bay Airport.

Customs’ approval must be sought for an arrival or departure and parties must give at least five days written notice to Customs.

Customs group manager border operations Dana McDonald said Customs had previously received requests for ‘ad hoc’ international flights into and out of Hawke’s Bay Airport.

“We are required to consider the nature and frequency of any ongoing requests and have assessed that the Hawke’s Bay requests were more than ad hoc in nature.

“Accordingly, to manage Customs’ border responsibilities and provide a suitable framework for the private jet base and air ambulance operations based on the airport complex, Customs decided it was appropriate to designate Hawke’s Bay Airport as a “Customs place” with conditions.”

Air Napier chief operating officer Arsel Aslam said the news was a “huge win” for the wider Hawke’s Bay region, and the company was excited to get the ball rolling and finalise details of the new process over the coming weeks.

“We have been ad hoc for 30 years at Air Napier. It’s great to finally have a clearer understanding and direction on what’s asked of bringing in these kinds of high-level individuals for either leisure or business.”

The NZ Air Ambulance Service will also benefit from the changes when undertaking critical missions. The certification streamlines and expedites the process of transporting its critical care teams and responding to air ambulance requests for patients in need of life-saving air ambulance services.

“The ability to fly our critical care teams directly from Napier to international destinations will help us to respond promptly to emergencies in the South Pacific region,” NZAAS chief executive Annabel Toogood said.

“This is crucial for providing timely lifesaving care and enhancing our organisation’s overall capability in air ambulance services.”

According to the Customs and Excise Act 2018, a Customs place officially designates and authorises areas where passengers, goods, and craft must enter and leave the country.

It’s a legal obligation that all overseas aircraft must arrive at or depart from a designated Customs airport and within a Customs Controlled Area; where Customs’ responsibilities and powers can be exercised, and Customs’ resources can be efficiently directed.


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First published by HB Today. Click here to read the full article.