Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Ground Handling
This is a post by guest author Mercedes Puppo of Munser FBO. Mercedes was asked to contribute to our business aviation blog because of her experience and expertise in ground handling in Argentina. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Mercedes’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Argentina and continues from our last article: “Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Important Airport Considerations.”
For business aircraft operators traveling to Argentina, your considerations for making ground handling arrangements can vary greatly depending on destination. In general, it’s important to allow a little extra lead time for ground handling requests and to ensure that all documentation is complete and in order.
The following is an overview of what you need to know about aircraft ground handling in Argentina:
1. Arranging aircraft ground handling services
For private non-revenue or charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights, it’s necessary to send itinerary, crew/passenger information, and service requirements in advance. Suggested lead time to set up ground handling is approximately 24 hours, as the handler will need to advise airport authorities, prepare a letter for the police, and set up services, such as aviation fuel and in-flight catering. Ground handlers are able to accommodate short-notice requests, but delays may be encountered without complete information provided in advance.
If you’re traveling to smaller or domestic airports in Argentina, a letter of authorization must be forwarded, in advance, to arrange ground handling services. If, for example, customs isn’t available at Parana (SAAP) (because customs is available on request only), additional time will be needed to reposition customs personnel for arrival. For operations to smaller airfields in Argentina, two to three working days’ lead time is recommended. Short-notice requests, however, may be accommodated for emergency or ambulance flights.
2. Crew do not require visas
Crew, regardless of nationality, do not need visas for Argentina. Certain passenger nationalities will, however, require visas, and these visas must be arranged prior to arrival. It’s important to be mindful that “reciprocity fees” must be paid to Argentina, in advance, for all passengers who are American, Australian, or Canadian citizens. You can find the required immigration information in Spanish and English on the Direccion Nacional Migraciones website.
3. Ground handling request procedures
Once a ground handling request is received, the ground handler will do the following: fill out a general declaration (gen dec); request Ground Support Equipment (GSE) from the ramp agent; arrange aircraft parking with airport authorities; notify Administracion Nacional de Aviacion Civil (ANAC – the civil aviation authority in Argentina), health department, and customs; and set up 4th-party services, such as in-flight catering, local transport, and aviation fuel. Ground handling, and all 4th-party services, can be arranged on credit for any airport in Argentina with prior arrangements.
4. CIQ procedures
When you arrive, the ground handler will transport crew/passengers to the main terminal for Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance. For instance, at Buenos Aires (SAEZ) your ground handler will normally be able to arrange passenger clearance via dedicated lines (crew or diplomatic lines), and clearance usually takes about 10 minutes. The ground handler must request the separate (dedicated) lines in writing. Though this request is usually approved, it’s at the discretion of customs and immigration authorities to do so.
At any Airport of Entry (AOE) in Argentina, be aware that all luggage and non-flight-related items must be removed from the aircraft, scanned, and stored at the ground handler’s office during your stay in the country. Please note that no food may be stored at the airport unless it’s frozen, and the ground handler has permission from the airport to store it. It’s best to check with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler in advance to ensure storage is possible.
Across all AOEs, onboard CIQ clearance is usually only possible for air ambulance, diplomatic, or VVIP flights with prior approval. Immigration uses a biometric system and will take photos and fingerprints. For CIQ clearance arrival/departure, cards must be filled out and presented. Your ground handler will take care of this as long as full crew/passenger information has been provided in advance. For changes to schedule or manifest, your ground handler will coordinate updates with CIQ and airport authorities for aircraft parking.
5. Airport considerations
Argentina has 33 airports available to General Aviation (GA). SAEZ is the primary airport for GA operations, but Cordoba (SACO), Iguazu (SARI), San Fernando (SADF), and Mendoza (SAME) are also regularly used. Note that some domestic airports do not have English-speaking air traffic controllers, so you’ll need to have a Spanish-speaking pilot onboard. This can be arranged via your ground handler with advanced notice. Currently, there are no noise restrictions at any airports in Argentina. Be aware that each airport has different local procedures and regulations. It’s important to talk with your ground handler to ensure there won’t be any issues with your flight.
6. GSE availability
While large international airports in Argentina usually have a good selection of GSE equipment, there may be shortages or unavailability of items for less common types of GA aircraft. It’s best to have your ground handler confirm availability of tow bars and other GSE equipment at the airport in question. In some cases, you’ll need to allow additional lead time to have equipment relocated to the appropriate airport.
7. Other operating considerations
Parking at SAEZ is about 500 meters away from the terminal, but it’s usually much closer to the terminal at smaller airports, such as Bariloche (SAZS). At most airports in Argentina, you’ll be able to power in/out of airport parking positions. For tech stops, plan on 45-60 minutes on the ground. SAEZ is not usually a preferred tech stop due to airport congestion. Best airports for tech stops are SACO and SAME, but your choice of tech stop location depends on your departure and destination airports. Be aware that Argentina considers large aircraft – such as a BBJ, ACJ, etc. – to be scheduled commercial carriers if the aircraft is not in low-density VIP seat configuration. If the operation is not scheduled commercial, you’ll need to submit the following to ANAC: 1) insurance, 2) registration, and 3) airworthiness certificates, apostilled in the country of origin – all translated into Spanish in Argentina, with a letter of legal representation in Argentina and appropriate forms filled out. This process takes approximately one month.Your ground handler or 3rd-party provider can assist you with this process.
Prior to arrival, speak to your ground handler or 3rd-party provider about local procedures and requirements in Argentina, as well as any unique requirements for your particular destination.
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