Business Aircraft Operations to Los Cabos after Hurricane Odile

> and | November 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Business Aircraft Operations to Los Cabos after Hurricane Odile

Image Source: NASA – image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

On September 14, Hurricane Odile made landfall in Los Cabos, Mexico, causing significant damage throughout Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Authorities and businesses have been working consistently over the past two months to repair the damage caused. With this week historically marking the beginning of the busy season for business aircraft operations in the area, we wanted to provide a current overview of the operating environment and local area post Odile.

If you are planning a mission to Los Cabos (San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas), below is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Both airports are operational

There are two airports to consider, San Jose Del Cabo (MMSD) and Cabo San Lucas (MMSL). Both of these are airports of entry (AOEs) that offer full services for general aviation (GA) flights. It’s recommended that you work with your 3rd-party provider to determine the best airport option for your operation.

2. MMSD is back to providing full services; Airport fees are being discounted

After Odile hit, the airport took some damage and was closed to commercial traffic for three weeks. (It was open for about a week during this period for humanitarian missions.) MMSD is back to operating 0700-1800 local, with overtime available upon request. For any overtime, the request has to be submitted to airport authorities by 1700 local, and fees will apply. Furthermore, if you do not purchase fuel through the fixed-base operator (FBO), an additional fee will be charged. The latest overtime is available is 2200 local.

The FBO at MMSD is fully operational with 3rd-party services available along with aircraft parking and ground support equipment for all aircraft. Our own Universal Aviation office there is reporting that all operations are running smoothly, and everything is back to how it was before Odile struck.

Airport authorities have also extended a 50% discount on airport service fees until further notice.

Roads to and from the airport are in good condition, and, depending on the time of day, the average drive time to downtown is 45 minutes.

Roadside entrance to the FBO, taken 11/11/14

Roadside entrance to the FBO, taken 11/11/14

Rampside entrance to the FBO, taken 11/11/14

Rampside entrance to the FBO, taken 11/11/14

Sign displayed outside the FBO, taken 11/11/14

Sign displayed outside the FBO, taken 11/11/14

3. MMSL is also operating as usual

MMSL was also closed for nearly a month due to damage caused by Odile, and it is now back in operation. MMSL is an AOE that operates 0700-1900 local with the runway length being 7,000 ft. As with MMSD, overtime is available at this airport as long as certain regulations are met. Specifically, all overtime requests must be received by the airport authority by 1800 local, and charges apply. Full services are available at this airport with credit arrangements available with prior arrangements. Note that the drive time is approximately 10 minutes from the city center.

4. Current status of city center

Most of the city’s roads are secure and in good condition, with some of them being worked on to restore them to their previous state. Shopping areas are, for the most part, fully operational, and all the major stores—including the big box stores—are back in business. The same applies to most of the popular coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Most golf courses in the vicinity are fully operational and reporting to be in 100% good condition. Also, there are two hospitals in the area that are fully operational and offer emergency services as needed. Your ground handler can give you details on the specific restaurants, golf courses, etc. that are back in business and which are still undergoing repairs.

Downtown Cabo, taken 11/11/14

Downtown Cabo, taken 11/11/14

5. Hotels – some closures, but plenty of options

Although some of the major 5-star hotels aren’t available due to work being completed, there are plenty of other hotel options to consider, including resorts, major international brands, and boutique hotels. Note that some hotels are open while undergoing repairs at the same time. We recommend that you speak with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler to determine the best option for your crew and/or passengers.

6. Ground transportation is good

All transportation options including rental vehicles, prepaid transportation with driver, and taxis are available upon request. If you are looking to use a taxi, it’s recommended that you have your ground handler or hotel make these arrangements, to ensure that secure options are arranged. Roads to and from the airports are in good condition, and you shouldn’t experience any major issues getting around.

7. Don’t forget SENEAM fees

SENEAM fees are navigation fees for both overflight and landing in Mexico. It’s important to note that these fees must be self-calculated, reported, and paid when they are due. For this reason, it’s always recommended that you determine if you have any outstanding fees prior to traveling to Mexico. For more information on SENEAM fees, please see our articles titled:

8. Permits are required for all flights to Mexico

Landing permits are required for all GA operations into Mexico, both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial). Regulations regarding landing permits changed this past June increasing the flexibility for many foreign registered GA operators traveling to the country. For more information on the latest information pertaining to Mexico landing permits, please see our articles titled:

Final thoughts

Although Los Cabos was hit hard by Hurricane Odile, local authorities and businesses have been working hard to make repairs to the city, local infrastructure, and airport. Business aircraft operators can expect services at the airport and FBO to be at the same levels as they were before Odile. Tourism for the most part won’t be too impacted, with the exception of some hotels and businesses that may be closed or partially closed for repairs. As always, we recommend you contact your local ground or 3rd-party provider for the most current and accurate information.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Mexico, contact us at or You can also contact Universal Aviation Mexico – San Jose del Cabo directly if you have specific questions about operations to Los Cabos or would like to arrange ground handling services for an upcoming trip.

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Jorge Alva is an expert on business aviation operations and ensuring maintenance of global standards, safety and compliance at the ground support level throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2011, he has served as Regional Director of Operations, Latin America and Caribbean, for Universal Aviation. Prior to his current role, Jorge, who has been with Universal Aviation since 1999, served as Operations Manager for Universal Aviation Mexico – Toluca. Jorge’s experience also includes 18 years as a flight engineer, where he accumulated more than 8,000 flight hours. Jorge has a mechanical engineering degree from Universidad Iberoamericana and a graduate degree in business strategy and development from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. Jorge can be reached at


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Liliana Zagal has been with Universal Aviation Mexico – Toluca for ten years and today holds the position of Manager of Outlying Stations, Sales and Marketing. With a background in sales and marketing, customer service, and as a flight attendant, Liliana has enjoyed the many new challenges, and areas of responsibility, that have presented themselves as Universal Aviation Mexico – Toluca has grown to become the leader in business aviation support throughout Mexico. Her areas of expertise include sales and marketing, operations, permits and SENEAM (Navigation Services for Mexican Airspace) coordination, in addition to overall customer support. Liliana, fluent in both English and Spanish, has been a speaker at the NBAA IOC conference as well as at Outlying Stations regional meetings. She can be reached at

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