Assume you have a large airliner such as a 747, and you're taking off from a place, such as Ovda, where you can't load enough fuel to make it to your destination without stopping somewhere along the way. From all the airports along the route to your destination, what criteria are used to determine what a suitable "somewhere" to stop at for fuel is, assuming that runway size and fuel availability have already been filtered for?


1 Answer 1


Some factors might be:

  • Price of fuel at the various airports?
  • Landing fees?
  • Are any of the airports so busy that you might have to hold waiting for landing clearance? (You don't want to plan a fuel stop at LHR).
  • Can you expect long taxis in some places? (All other things being equal, a single runway with a ramp next to it is better news than something like Schiphol or O'Hare).
  • If you're carrying passengers, are some of the airports in countries with significantly more cumbersome immigration rules applying to technical stops than others? Some may want airport transit visas from passengers of certain nationalities even if they don't disembark.
  • Political considerations such as the ones mentioned by Terry in the comment.
  • And, of course, the total expected fuel burn for the two legs, which will depend on your refueling points. Your operations department will make concrete calculations for a number of likely stops, and weather has an influence on top of geography. If you have several possible airports that all happen to be right on the shortest path between your origin and destination, the math will tend to favor a refueling stop roughly in the middle -- this will minimize the total cost-of-lifting-enough-fuel-for-the-rest-of-the-leg.

Finally, if you're planning a recurring scheduled flight, will any of the options provide a business opportunity to take on some extra passengers on days where the demand from the actual origin is low?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd add political considerations too as a possible concern. For example, I doubt any aircraft having taken off from Israel would be welcome to refuel at a Saudi Arabian airport since the two countries are technically still at war. At least this was the case back in the 1990s. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Sep 10, 2015 at 3:14

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