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Dyami REBASE - June - July 2023


 

Executive Summary The incidents from the last few months show the importance of keeping up-to-date with the recurring and emerging security threats to the business aviation sector in Europe and the wider world. The need for timely analysis and accurate information regarding new threats is a necessity to plan ahead and take precautionary measures. There are several new threats which pose potential risks for business aviation around the world. In Europe, climate protests have targeted runways and damaged aircraft in Germany. The risk of climate protests pose particular problems for the business aviation sector as they are explicitly the target. Commercial and private aircraft have experienced significant delays because of a sharp increase in hoax bomb threats.


Global

1.1. Drug trafficking

Business model jets have been and continue to be used for drug/contraband smuggling across the globe. These flights are usually to and from Latin America, Ethiopia and India. The aim of using business jets instead of commercial aviation is to lower the chance of getting caught, and increase the volume per flight.


1.2. Human trafficking

In order to improve the ease of human trafficking, and to stay away from prying eyes of airport security as well as cabin crew, traffickers prefer to use business jets if they can. This problem is a worldwide ordeal which is hard to combat.


1.3. Valuables trafficking

Ethiopia and India have become hubs for trafficking of valuables, such as wildlife and gold. While the majority of the detected smuggling was on commercial flights, there has been an increase in (attempts to) smuggle with business jets and via smaller regional airports.


Europe

2.1. Strikes

Over the last few months, air traffic controllers and airport employees have gone on strikes to protest wages and/or working conditions. Some of the French strikes impacted the entire airspace of France, while others resulted in delays and in some cases in airports becoming non-operational.


2.2. Climate activism

The last two months have seen continued climate protests throughout Europe targeting airports and business aviation. In some cases, aircraft were deliberately damaged by activists. There have been calls for increased security but protests targeting airports and especially business aviation are likely to continue in the coming months.


2.3. Ban on domestic flights

The Belgian minister of transport has pushed for a ban for domestic flights in Belgium. Seventyone percent of these flights are done by business jets and government, training, maintenance and other exceptional flights will be exempt from the ban.


Middle East

3.1. Protests

In Israel, large protests disrupted the traffic around Ben Gurion International Airport [LLBG] and caused several delays. More protests can be expected in the coming weeks.


3.2. Increased military presence

Above the Strait of Hormuz, there is a significant increase in military presence to deter Iran from seizing vessels in the area. The increased tensions and military activities are expected to remain in the coming weeks.


3.3. Overflight Risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


Asia

4.1. New Zealand pilot hostage Papua

On February 7, independence fighters from West-Papuan independence fighters took a New Zealand pilot hostage to demand independence from Indonesia. On the 31th of May, a video message appeared in which the pilot said that if demands are not met within two months, he will be executed. Since then, several rescue attempts failed, resulting in casualties on both sides, and the demands of the hostage takers were lowered. On July 20, 2023, an Indonesian official said that negotiation attempts are still ongoing.


4.2. Regional instability

Political instability has led to recurring protests and (armed) attacks, particularly in northern India, Pakistan, Myanmar and the border region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instabilities in some countries prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. This ranges from minimum flight levels to security threats on the ground.


4.3. Hoax bomb threats

In India, there has been an increase in fake bomb threats to airplanes and airports. While not specifically targeted on business aviation, the fake calls disrupt airport operations and can result in significant delays and searches on business jets.


4.4. Airport attacks

In Indonesia’s Papua province, armed groups have continued to target airports and low flying aircraft. Both military and civilian airplanes were shot while flying at low altitudes near airports in eastern Indonesia.


Africa

5.1. Overflight risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


5.2. Illicit trafficking

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport [HAAB] has become a trafficking hub for wildlife and narcotics. The Ethiopian Customs commission stated that it is struggling with the growing sophistication and capacity of smugglers, which is a notable pattern throughout the region.



North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. The lack of security for private flights, especially at smaller regional airports, makes it easier for traffickers.


6.2. Protests

Protestors have disrupted flight operations at several airports in Mexico, the United States and Canada. While not always specifically targeted at aviation, airports are becoming an increasingly used site for protests.


South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft for drug trafficking throughout the continent. The criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights.


7.2. Venezuela overflight ban canceled

In June 2023, the FAA canceled a four-year long ban on overflights of Venezuela below flight level 260. While no countries have active restrictions, overflight remains risky because of risks of misidentification and the security threats on the ground.


Oceania

8.1. Protests against aviation

There have been several protests against aviation, and especially business jets, in Australia and New Zealand. The crowds protested both noise and climate concerns but did not cause any significant disruptions to airport operations during the protests.


8.2. Emergency response concerns

Airport-based firefighters in Australia have raised concerns about a draft restructuring of the service. Strikes which can impact airport operations are expected in the coming weeks, especially at regional airports.




Forecast The threats to the business aviation sector in June 2023 and July 2023 are likely to pose continuing threats in the coming months. Steps are being taken to increase security at European airports, but climate protestors are likely to continue targeting airports and especially business aviation. In Mexico, non-aviation protests have targeted airports as well and received considerable media coverage. As a result, more protests at airports are expected in the coming months. While not specifically targeted on business aviation, there is an increase in hoax bomb threats in India. In Africa, Asia and South America, there continues to be widespread instability and the use of aviation for trafficking and drug trafficking. The identified security risks are likely to pose threats for the foreseeable future. Recognizing the potential risks and creating scenarios are vital for security for the business aviation sector.


 

Global

1.1. Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is still a present risk for business aviation. For organized crime groups and cartels, business aviation is often the preferred method of transportation. There are numerous cases of drugs, or other valuable goods such as wildlife and gold, trafficking by cabin and flight crew on commercial flights. It is possible that cabin or flight crew on private jets could smuggle illegal goods too, emphasizing the need to be vigilant.


Throughout Latin America, cartels have continued to use business jets to smuggle large amounts of narcotics over long distances. These jets are often acquired in the United States and then destroyed after a single or very few flights to avoid detection. It is important to clearly identify when asked to minimize the risk of misidentification by law enforcement and/or the military.


1.2. Human trafficking

With human trafficking still being a major issue to this day, the involvement of business aircraft is to be expected. In commercial aviation steps have been made and are still being made to improve the awareness and the prevention of human trafficking. While most of these measures have generally been effective for commercial aviation, it could push human traffickers into finding other solutions.


One of these solutions for human traffickers is business/private aviation. If a trafficking organization can overcome the increased costs of using business aviation, it allows for flights to smaller airports with less experienced and limited security compared to larger commercial airports. Additionally, it is easier to bribe or blackmail security personnel to turn a blind eye to human trafficking, especially in unstable countries or regions.



Europe

2.1. Strikes

Over the last two months, air traffic controllers and airport employees have gone on strikes to protest wages and/or working conditions. Especially in France, these strikes have disrupted the entire airspace of the country multiple times, while others resulted in significant delays and airport closures. More strikes can be expected in the coming months.


2.2. Climate activism

The last two months have seen continued climate protests throughout Europe targeting airports and business aviation. In Germany, private aircraft were deliberately damaged with (spray)paint during these protests. Other actions include blocking taxi and runways and protests on tarmac where the private aircraft are parked. There have been calls for increased security at the targeted airports but protests targeting airports, and especially business aviation, are likely to continue in the coming months.


2.3. Ban on domestic flights

The Belgian minister of transport has pushed for a ban for domestic flights in Belgium. Seventyone percent of these flights are done by business jets. There will be exceptions for government, training, maintenance and other atypical flights. Other countries are considering similar bans, but Belgium appears to be leading in this effort.


2.4. Drug trafficking

On June 24, a ‘’small private plane’’ was intercepted by a French Rafale fighter jet after flying in restricted airspace. During the escort, the pilot dropped several packages of narcotics and threatened airport employees upon landing. The pilot was later arrested.




Middle East

3.1. Protests

In Israel, large protests disrupted the traffic around Ben Gurion International Airport [LLBG] and caused several delays. More protests can be expected in the coming weeks. There have also been large protests in Baghdad, but these protests targeted Western embassies and disruptions around the airport were minimal.


3.2. Increased military presence

There is a significant increase in military presence above the Strait of Hormuz to deter Iran from seizing vessels in the area. The increased tensions and military activities are expected to remain in the coming weeks. Avoid flying over the Strait of Hormuz and clearly identify when asked to minimize the risk of misidentification.


3.3. Overflight Risks

Developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures. These include an advised minimum flight level of 320 over Iraq, with a focus on northern Iraq. Additionally, GPS interference is to be expected when overflying the country as well as Lebanon, Turkey and Israel. The airspace above Iran, Afghanistan (except for P500/G500), Yemen and Syria is still unsafe for Western aviation. Overflying Saudi Arabia is safe, as long as flying above FL260.


Asia

4.1. Pilot held hostage in West Papua (Indonesia)

The pilot taken hostage in West Papua to demand independence is still being held by his captors. Since the capture on February 7, the hostage takers have freed the passengers and lowered demands. Negotiations have stranded numerous times and several rescue attempts failed, resulting in casualties on both sides. The indepence fighters have threatened to kill the pilot if demands, which are not publicly known, are not met and have published several videos of the pilot in captivity. On July 20, a senior official of the Indonesian military said that negotiation attempts are still ongoing and that the pilot is alive and healthy.


4.2. Regional instability

Political instability has led to recurring protests and (armed) attacks, particularly in northern India, Pakistan, Myanmar and the border region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instabilities prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. The instability in northern India poses a serious risk to aircraft on the ground, while the unrest in Pakistan and Myanmar introduce threats to overflight as well. As a result of proliferation of anti-air weapons, a minimum flight level of 300 AGL is advised.

The tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have resulted in armed conflict without warning numerous times. Since both countries operate advanced air defense systems, overflying the border region should be avoided.


4.3. Fake bomb threats

In India, there has been an increase in fake bomb threats to airplanes and airports. While not specifically targeted on business aviation, the fake calls disrupt airport operations and can result in significant delays and searches on business jets.


4.4. Airport attacks

In Indonesia’s Papua province, armed groups have continued to target airports and low flying aircraft. On July 18, armed assailants shot at a civilian plane carrying military personnel at Pogapa Airport. It is unclear whether the assailants knew military personnel was onboard, but armed groups have targeted civilian aircraft in the past. It is expected that these attacks will continue in the coming months.


Africa

5.1. Overflight risks

Overflying Africa has risks, which differ per country. Libya and Sudan are the only countries with a do not fly advisory while most other countries can be overflown by sticking to a security advisory.

  • Egypt: advice to fly above flight level 300 over the Sinai region due to terrorist organizations in possession of anti-air weapons

  • Ethiopia: the Tigray region remains unstable even though an official peace deal was signed in November. The advice is to avoid overflying the region because of the presence of anti-air systems.

  • Somalia: advisory to not overfly the country below flight level 300 because of the instability in the country in combination with the presence of anti-air systems.

  • Kenya: the border region has an overspill effect of the civil war in Somalia, thus posing the same threat as in Somalia itself. The advisory is to not fly below flight level 300.

  • Mali: militants are in possession of anti-air systems and thus the advice is to not fly below flight level 300 over the country.

  • Niger: as a result of the political instability, the advice is to avoid flying over Niger

  • Western Sahara: due to the conflict in the region between Morocco and the independence movement in the region, there is a risk of proliferation of anti-air weapons. The advice is to stick to a flight level of 250 AGL or more.


5.2. Political instability

Political instability has resulted in unpredictable protests and revolts throughout Africa. The political violence in Sudan and Niger has led to serious security risks for aircraft on the ground and overflights. It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments to minimize the risk of getting caught in armed violence while staying in a vulnerable African country or region.


5.3. Illicit trafficking

Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Bole International Airport [HAAB] has become a trafficking hub for wildlife and narcotics. The Ethiopian Customs commission stated that it is struggling with the growing sophistication and capacity of smugglers, which is a notable pattern throughout the region.


North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. These organizations regularly use private flights to and from smaller regional airports in the south of the United States because of limited security. Airport personnel and/or the flight crew can be coerced or bribed into aiding the traffickers to further ease the smuggling.


6.2. Protests

On June 15, a two-day long protest at Culiacán International Airport [MMCL] in Mexico ended. A group of farmers protested low prices for the crops by preventing aircraft from landing or taking off from the airport. While the protestors left the airport after talks, the significant media attention might be a motivation to protest at Mexican airports more frequently. Other non-aviation related protests and strikes by airport employees caused disruptions throughout the United States and Canada.


South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft, ranging from smaller Cessna to business jets, for drug trafficking throughout the continent. The criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights.


7.2. Venezuela overflight ban canceled

In June 2023, the FAA canceled a four-year long ban on overflights of Venezuela below flight level 260. While no countries have active restrictions, overflight remains risky because of risks of misidentification and the security threats on the ground.


Oceania

8.1. Protests against aviation

There have been several protests against aviation, and especially business jets, in Australia and New Zealand. Hundreds of people protested both noise and climate concerns at various airports throughout Australia and New Zealand. The crowds did not cause any significant disruptions to airport operations during the protests, but more protests are expected in the coming months.


8.2. Emergency response concerns

Airport-based firefighters in Australia have raised concerns about a draft to restructure the service. If implemented, airport-based firefighters are not allowed to respond to incidents outside the airport and would see fewer to no emergency response personnel stationed at regional airports. The firefighters’ union threatened with strikes which could impact airport operations in the near future, especially at smaller regional airports.


 

REBASE June - July 2023
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