What You Need to Know about Fueling Your Business Aircraft in Brazil

> | July 5, 2012 | 3 Comments
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This is a post by author Andre Camargo. Andre is Country Manager for Universal Aviation Brazil which has aircraft ground handling facilities in São Paulo, Brasilia, Manaus, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro. Andre is an expert on business aircraft operations in Brazil and can be contacted at andrecamargo@universalaviation.aero.

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Brazil.

Brazil is a relatively easy and straightforward operating environment for fueling. Challenges that do surface usually have more to do with confirming jet-fuel deliveries and paying for jet fuel. We recommend that you work with your 3rd-party provider early in the process to avoid issues. Be aware that if you’re trying to arrange and pay for jet fuel on your own, costs may be higher and significant delays may be possible.

1. What is the process for obtaining jet fuel in Brazil?

It’s important to keep your jet fuel supplier informed on your arrival requirements and schedule, as well as any changes. You’ll need to advise the supplier of the method of payment, volume (in liters), and your tail number. Notify the supplier of any changes that will take an hour or more in order to avoid potential delays of up to 1-2 hours in circumstances where the supplier is occupied with airlines or needs to refill a truck. All jet fuel in Brazil is supplied by the government-majority-owned oil company. You may be fueled by a different supplier, but all jet fuel is from the same source.

2. What methods of payment are accepted for jet fuel?

Major airports in Brazil will accept a fuel release, aviation fuel cards (also known as fuel carnets), credit cards (any card that may be used repeatedly to buy products and services on credit) or cash. A fuel release is especially recommended when operating to smaller airports. Some smaller locations will accept aviation fuel cards, but you must confirm this in advance. If you are utilizing a fuel release, it’s very important to confirm that it’s been sent to your destination prior to arrival in order to avoid unexpected delays. All fuel release requests go through a central office and are then forwarded to different airports. For example, for Petrobas the central office is in Rio de Janeiro and they disseminate all fuel requests to their different offices throughout Brazil.

3. How does an operator obtain the lowest contract price for jet fuel?

If you pay with credit cards or cash, you will most likely pay posted price, and it may take additional time to process your payment. To obtain contract fuel pricing (i.e., less than posted price), use an aviation-fuel card, a fuel release, or take advantage of ground handler credit when available. If fueling will be done via ground handler credit, it’s recommended that at least two hours’ notice is given to the ground handler. With short-notice fuel requests, there may be delays in having a fuel truck ready for your flight, as they might be already scheduled to fuel other aircraft. Published fuel prices usually change on the first of every month, but this does not mean that prices will not change during the month.

One tool you can use to help you with estimating pricing is to request a jet fuel price estimate online from the UVair Fuel Program.

4. What are the charges associated with jet fuel?

On domestic operations, for any jet-fuel uplift, you’ll be charged an ICMS tax, which is similar to Value Added Tax for sales and services. The ICMS varies between 12-25% depending on the state you are in. Additionally, there is a 1.1% refinery tax that will be applied when uplifting jet fuel for domestic operations. There’s no sales tax on jet fuel for international legs. If your next destination is international (non-Brazilian destination), and you’re using an aviation-fuel card, it’s usually no problem exempting sales tax. However, some airports will request a copy of your stamped general declaration (Gen Dec) to verify that it’s an international flight. Brasilia, Brazil (SBBR) and Florianopolis, Brazil (SBFL) airports will always verify if your flight is domestic or international. Fuel tickets only indicate liters provided – no price or tax information is indicated. Once fuel is uplifted, the supplier completes an invoice with all applicable taxes and charges. The supplier then forwards the invoice to your ground handler if you are utilizing handler credit, or to the applicable company whose aviation fuel card you used. If you’re buying fuel on your own with cash (USD, Euros or Brazilian Real are accepted) or credit cards, payment processing may require additional time, which sometimes can be more than an hour.

5. What is the average fueling time or wait time?

Depending on the airport, aircraft type, and volume requested, fueling may take additional time. Fuel trucks pump at about 500 liters per minute, so a 20,000-liter uplift could take 40 minutes. Hydrant fuel isn’t frequently available, and this service is usually reserved for scheduled commercial flights. As mentioned earlier, this time may be longer depending on the payment method you select.

6. Can fuel quality be tested?

You can request that the supplier test the fuel prior to delivery (uplift). A variety of fuel tests are available and can be performed on the ramp.

7. Are there particular documents that need to be presented to the jet fuel supplier?

An aviation fuel card, credit card, or cash should be presented prior to fueling if you’re not using a fuel release. The first thing the supplier will want to know is your method of payment. At SBBR, suppliers require your Gen Dec to verify that your flight is domestic or international. Also, it must be noted that a crew member or responsible party other than your local ground handler must be present during fueling.

8. Are there any other special considerations?

De-fueling an aircraft may be needed from time to time for reasons such as weight and balance. This can be a complex process, and you may wait up to two hours for the right truck. In some cases, the supplier may refuse this request. If your fuel contains any type of additives or appears to be contaminated, it may be difficult to arrange de-fueling.

Conclusion

Jet fuel quality is good in Brazil, and credit can be arranged with prior notice. For the best jet-fuel prices, use an aviation fuel card, or a fuel release. It’s always best to avoid use of credit cards or cash for fuel purchases in Brazil, as costs may be higher and payment processing may take much longer.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact me at andrecamargo@universalaviation.aero.

Next week, we will discuss tips for arranging aircraft ground handling in Brazil.

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Universal Aviation Brazil Country Manager Andre Camargo has more than 20 years’ experience in the aviation industry in both ground handling and flight operations management. Based in Sao Paulo, Andre is an expert on operations to and from Brazil.

Andre holds both a law degree from the Universidade Cidade de Sao Paulo and an MBA from Fundação Getulio Vargas. He can be reached at andrecamargo@universalaviation.aero.

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