This business aviation blog post is part of a series on the G77 meeting taking place in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The Group of 77 (G77) is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations (UN). The annual G77 meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs convenes in Santa Cruz, Bolivia this year, June 14-15. We expect this event to cause infrastructure issues for General Aviation (GA) in terms of aircraft parking and hotel accommodations. If you’re planning to attend this 50th anniversary G77 event, it’s recommended that you begin making arrangements without delay.
The following is an overview of what airport options you have to consider when operating to Santa Cruz:
1. When and where
GA aircraft will begin arriving as early as June 12, with many visitors staying until June 17. Expect GA traffic activity to be very high during this event. Due to the elevated level of traffic, aircraft, including some diplomatic flights, may need to be repositioned after dropping off passengers at Santa Cruz (SLVR).
2. SLVR is the primary airport
SLVR is the primary and preferred airport for this event. This is a 24-hour Airport of Entry (AOE) with full aircraft ground handling services. While SLVR does not normally have airport slot or prior permission required mandates in place, there may be closures and other operating requirements, as indicated by NOTAM, during the G77 summit period. As aircraft parking will be an issue during this period, it’s recommended that operators identify an alternate airport as a backup for reposition purposes. Even some diplomatic flights, with full diplomatic clearances, will likely need to drop, go, and reposition. Be aware that at SLVR and airports throughout Bolivia ground handling services are often slower than you may be accustomed to. Additional time should be allowed for ground handling and all locally-sourced services.
3. SLVR parking
We anticipate that available aircraft parking at SLVR will fill up during the G77 summit – particularly due to the high number of diplomatic flights and their support aircraft. First priority for aircraft parking will be given to heads of state and diplomatic operations. But, even these operators may have issues in securing overnight parking and may need to drop and go.
We anticipate that many operators to Bolivia, during the G77 period, will need to drop and go at SLVR and then reposition to an airport within and/or outside Bolivia. With all of this drop-and-go activity at SLVR – due to multiple aircraft making multiple trips – expect airport and local airspace congestion to be high. Cabotage, fortunately, is not an issue for GA operations within Bolivia, so long as all information for your trip has been provided to the Civil Aviation Authority, and your permit request has been approved.
5. Airport alternates
The best alternate airports to consider, if you’re not able to arrange overnight parking at SLVR, are Cochabamba (SLCB) and Asuncion (SGAS). SLBC is 175 Nautical Miles (NM) by air from SLVR, while SGAS is at a distance of 552 NM in neighboring Paraguay. Due to expected overnight parking limitations at SLVR, many operators will reposition aircraft to airports within and outside Bolivia.
6. SLCB and SGAS considerations
SLCB is a joint civil/military AOE with daily airport hours of 0500-1900 local and full aircraft support services. If you wish to operate outside normal airport hours, overtime can be arranged, with at least two business days’ notice, and additional charges apply. Language barriers should not be an issue in Bolivia as Air Traffic Control has English-speaking controllers at all larger airports. There’s a chance that SLCB may offer extended operating hours during the G77 period to accommodate anticipated overflow from SLVR, but this has not yet been confirmed. It’s best to check in advance and make arrangements as needed. SGAS is also an AOE, with full services available, but it’s located over 500 NM away in Paraguay.
It’s important to consider alternate airport parking options if you’re planning to attend the 2014 G77 summit in Santa Cruz. Many operators will face drop-and-go requirements at SLVR, and available reposition options may be some distance away.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Bolivia, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers the permits and customs and immigration requirements for travel to Bolivia.
About Earnest Rocha
Earnest Rocha is Master Mission Advisor on the Bravo Team at Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. He’s been involved in the aviation industry for more than 14 years and, currently, has areas of particular expertise in both Central and South America. Active in the U.S. Navy for five years, and with 6.5 years and counting in the Navy reserves, Earnest enjoys the challenges of helping his clients manage successful and trouble-free operations to all areas of the world. He’s fluent in both Spanish and English and routinely works on resolving any day-of-operations issues that may come up. Earnest can be reached at email@example.com.
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