Operating to Mexico: 7 Logistical Tips for Your First Trip

> and | March 5, 2012 | 1 Comment
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This aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Mexico and continues from our last article entitled “Operating to Mexico: Overview of Landing Permits and Restrictions.”

For a successful and trouble-free trip to Mexico, it’s always best practice for business-aviation operators to plan for a range of logistical issues that may impact a flight. Documentation requirements, as well as operating restrictions, need to be anticipated. It’s also advantageous to plan in advance for jet fuel uplifts, ground handling, hotels and ground transportation. Over recent years, security has become a concern in certain areas of Mexico, and it’s important to be aware of and to mitigate potential risks.

1. Understanding documentation requirements

It’s best practice to always carry current general declarations (GENDECs) and extra copies of aircraft documents onboard the aircraft, as airport authorities will ask for this information frequently. Without having this information readily available, you may experience delays. Passports are required for all nationals entering Mexico (including U.S. nationals, effective January 2007.) Because these requirements can change without much notice, always check with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider to determine if your passengers require visas for Mexico.

Added March 6, 2012: In addition to carrying items like extra copies of the GENDECs onboard your aircraft, always ensure you have all necessary aircraft documents such as insurance for Mexico. The types of insurance depend on the type of flight (private non-revenue or charter [non-scheduled commercial]). We discussed this more in depth in our previous article “Operating to Mexico: Overview of Landing Permits and Restrictions.” Also, please note that the Mexican CAA will approve of all documentation in advance during the landing permit process.

Thanks to reader Jennifer G. for reiterating this important point.

2. Stopping in MMCZ or MMTP when coming from the South or the Caribbean

Any aircraft coming into Mexico from the South or the Caribbean will need to first make a stop at either Cozumel, Mexico (MMCZ) or Tapachula, Mexico (MMTP) for security and customs clearance. This is a mandatory stop. The only exception to this regulation is for diplomatic flights with prior approval. During this stop, please prepare your passengers for possible delays, as airport authorities must inspect the aircraft, crew and passengers. This means that local authorities will require that the aircraft be parked and the engines shut down for the airport authorities to complete their process. For more information pertaining to the exact procedures for each airport above – as there are differences between the two – please contact your 3rd-party provider.

3. Planning jet fuel uplifts

We always recommend using a jet fuel card when traveling to Mexico. The added value of using a jet fuel card is that you will be given the contracted price with any applicable discounts and not just the posted price. Without a jet fuel card, arrangement of jet fuel uplifts in advance is required. This means that you will need a letter on company letterhead stating the information that Mexican fuelers require in order to set up fueling in advance. Some of the information required on this letter would be the operator name, tail number and aircraft type. Cash will not be accepted at many locations and if using a credit card you will pay the full posted price.

One easy tool you can use to get fuel pricing is to request a jet fuel price estimate online from the UVair® Fuel Program.

4. Arranging ground handling

In Mexico, you must use a recognized ground handler for all intended destinations, or your permit will not be issued. Arrange in advance for assistance with all services needed on arrival. If you require that all services and fees be arranged via credit, we recommend giving your 3rd-party provider prior notice to make those arrangements.

5. Planning hotel and local ground transportation logistics

We recommend staying at 4- or 5-star hotels, as they provide better safety for your crew and passengers. Arrange pre-paid transportation with a private transport company, to maximize safety for crew and passengers. It’s also advisable to obtain the driver’s name, cell phone contact and vehicle license number in advance.

6. Considering security

We recommend security briefings for all planned destinations within Mexico to gain a better perspective of the local situation. Depending on threats, you may want to consider security for aircraft, crew and passengers. Take precautions, especially in the northern region of the country, and limit your time on the ground. For instance, crew should remove uniforms and company ID before departing the airport and keep a low profile in order to avoid being targeted.

7. Preparing for random checks and aircraft searches

Random aircraft searches by the Mexican army or customs agents are occurring more frequently. There are cases where operational delays do take place and can be substantial, so it’s recommended that you prepare passengers for this possibility as they are unannounced. These checks happen more frequently when the aircraft is entering from the south.

Conclusion

Private non-revenue operations to Mexico seldom run into permit or handling issues with adequate advanced planning. However, charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators are under additional scrutiny. Mexican authorities have been rigorously reviewing charter permit compliance. Work with your 3rd-party provider to arrange correct permits, obtain fuel and services credit and for timely security updates.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact us at lupejensen@univ-wea.com or juanmuniz@univ-wea.com.

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Category : Best Practice

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About

Lupe Jensen, Senior Mexico Permits Coordinator with Universal, has more than two decades of experience in business aviation and is an expert on operating to Mexico and obtaining permits for both charter and private aircraft. Since joining Universal in 1991, Lupe, has helped hundreds of operators navigate Mexico’s complex permit rules for corporate aviation. Prior to her current role, she served as a trip owner, coordinating logistics for operations around the world.

Lupe, who is fluent in Spanish, can be reached at lupejensen@univ-wea.com.

About

Juan Muniz, Supervisor of Global Regulatory Services with Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., is an expert on Mexico operations and permits. Juan has helped operators obtain hundreds of charter and private permits, using his knowledge of the process and close working relationship with Mexican civil aviation authorities and airport officials. Juan’s knowledge also extends to other regulatory issues such as: TSA Waivers, Border Overflight Exemptions, all CBP/APIS notifications, Universal’s Visa Waiver Program, European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, and more. Juan can be reached at juanmuniz@univ-wea.com.

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