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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the Carnival is celebrated in towns and villages across Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnival is not only the top carnival celebration in Brazil, but it’s one of the world’s most artistic events, attracting over 500,000 foreign visitors each year. If you’re a business-aircraft operator and planning to fly into Rio for the 2013 Carnival, it’s best to begin making preparations as soon as possible.
1. Brazilian Carnival takes place in February
Carnival officially takes place 08 – 12 February in Rio de Janeiro and 09-12 February in other cities in Brazil. While Rio hosts the largest and most famous Carnival event, there are also well-attended Carnivals in Sao Paulo, Recife, Salvador, and Olinda. Rio’s Carnival highlight is the Samba Parade, but there are also various balls and street parties, ranging from high society events to the flamboyant, throughout the city.
2. Consider airport options
The best option for attending 2013 Rio Carnival is Rio de Janeiro (SBGL). This is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE). Aircraft parking should not be an issue during Carnival time; however, it’s always best to request parking in advance. Full ground handling, credit, aviation fuel availability, and 4th-party services are available at SBGL. Another airport option to consider, although it’s a three-hour drive from central Rio de Janeiro, is Cabo Frio (SBCB). SBCB is open 0600-1800 local, with overtime on request. This is an AOE on request, and it’s necessary to plan on at least 24 hours prior notice to confirm airport access, set up customs/immigration, and make arrangements for ground services. Jet fuel is available; however, ground handling and catering services are limited at this location. Operators must carry a tow bar, and lav and water services may not be available for smaller general aviation (GA) aircraft.
3. SBRJ is a domestic airport option for “drop and go”
Santos Dumont (SBRJ) is for domestic operations only, with 0600-2300 local operating hours. Airport slots are necessary, and prior permission required (PPR) is needed. There’s an aircraft parking restriction of just three hours on the ground at SBRJ, and no overnight parking is allowed. As this is a domestic airport, you must clear customs/immigration at an AOE, both into and out of Brazil. Jet fuel and ground handling services are available, but they need to be requested in advance.
4. Sao Paulo offers three airport options
For operations to Sao Paulo, both Guarulhos (SBGR) and Campinas (SBKP) are 24- hour AOEs. PPRs should be requested as soon as possible. Also consider Congonhas (SBSP), a domestic airfield with 0600-2300 local operating hours and slot requirements for all aircraft. SBSP, SBGR, and SBKP offer full fuel, credit, and ground service availability. SBSP, however, offers limited parking for GA. If parking is approved at SBSP, you’ll be placed in the hangar area. GA may no longer use the military side of the field if the GA apron is full.
5. Flight permits are required for domestic operations within Brazil
If you plan on flying domestic legs within Brazil, you’ll need a domestic permit, for both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. CAA Brazil processes permit requests, and a minimum 24 hours’ notice is required. It’s usually best to plan on 48 hours’ notice due to documentation requirements. For more information on permits, please see our article titled “8 FAQs on Flight Permits and PPRs in Brazil.”
6. Know flight plan procedures
Be aware that all airport fees, including landing and navigation fees, take off fees, and fees for parking and communications, must be paid prior to departure. Your ground handler will normally settle these fees on your behalf and bill you later. If you’re planning on paying airport fees directly, it’s best to arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to departure. Be prepared to pay with cash or consumer credit cards. Note that if you’re paying with cash there will be delays, as serial numbers for the currency are noted down for each note/bill received.
7. Preferred hotel availability will be an issue during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Expect preferred hotel options to be sold out or almost sold out. It’s best to stay in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro, as this is the safest area and offers the best infrastructure. Copacabana, Ipenema, and Leblon are the best areas while Botafogo, Lapa, and Flamengo are further away but still within 15-20 minutes of Copacabana and Ipanema by subway. In many cases, short-notice options during Carnival time in Rio may be limited to 2- or 3-star accommodations—unless larger hotels have last-minute cancellations. If you do secure hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro, be mindful that they may be expensive, and you’ll face cancellation penalties if changes are made.
8. Pre-plan local transportation
Local transportation options in Rio de Janeiro, including rental vehicles, will be limited during Carnival. Rental vehicles are not recommended during this period, due to heavy traffic and road closures. Prepaid transport (car with driver) options will be available and can be arranged via your ground handler. Helicopter charters are an option within the Rio de Janeiro area; however, helipad sites are limited.
9. Additional information for operations to Brazil
For more information on operations to Brazil, including permits, airport slots, PPRs, and fuel arrangements, to name a few, see this in-depth series we wrote on business aircraft operations in Brazil.
Even for last-minute operations to 2013 Rio Carnival, aircraft parking and hotel accommodations can be organized by your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler. The most challenging issue will be securing preferred hotel accommodations. Don’t forget to buy your tickets for the Samba Parade in Rio de Janeiro, either online in advance or at various locations throughout the city.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
About Andre Camargo
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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