Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Fuel, Additional Services, & Security
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: Customs, Immigration, & Quarantine."
Additional consideration and planning are required when setting up aviation fuel uplifts for Argentina. It’s important to double-check advance notification and documentation requirements for fuel uplifts in order to avoid delays day of operation.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Aviation fuel uplift considerations
Aviation fuel releases should be forwarded at least 24 hours in advance (Monday-Friday) in order to arrange for fuel uplifts in Argentina. This is mandatory for all operations other than air ambulance, diplomatic, or emergency flights. If you have not arranged your uplift in advance, with a fuel release, you’ll need to pay posted price with cash or credit card. Always copy your ground handler on fuel releases, so they can follow up with the appropriate fueler and update any schedule changes. There are three aviation fuel companies at Buenos Aires (SAEZ) and two at Cordoba (SACO). At most other airports in Argentina, there’s only the government fueler available. Be aware that a few airports in Argentina do not have any aviation fuel available. Airport fuelers are available the same hours that the appropriate airport is open. Note that fuelers give priority to scheduled commercial aviation, so delays are possible. As fuel delays can be one hour or more depending on airport congestion, it’s recommended that aviation fuel be uplifted as per ground handler’s suggestion either on arrival or departure.
2. Aviation fuel charges/fees and credit
Aviation fuel prices in Argentina are per liter, and there may be additional into-plane and other charges associated with uplifts. Depending on the nature of your flight – international or domestic – different taxes will be applied. The captain, or another crew member such as the Second in Command or flight mechanic, must be present during fueling and will need to present both crew ID and the appropriate fuel card.
3. Other uplift considerations
Hydrant (ground to aircraft) fueling is available at SAEZ, Iguazu (SARI), Mendoza (SAME), SACO, and Ushuaia (SAWH). Depending on traffic volume, there may be uplift delays of one hour or more at SAEZ. Such delays, however, are rare at other airports in Argentina.
4. In-flight caterers are not usually located on-airport
Most in-flight caterers in Argentina are not located on the airport. While there’s one on-airport in-flight caterer at SAEZ, it is not geared toward general aviation catering. For this reason, ground handlers usually use in-flight caterers outside the airport. They’ll make arrangements to bring in-flight catering to the aircraft airside. Try to provide at least 24 hours’ notice for catering requests. Best practice is to have your ground handler coordinate catering, as catering vendors in Argentina often do not speak English.
5. In-flight catering menus may or may not be available
At SAEZ in-flight catering menus and options are available, but this is not usually the case at other airports in Argentina. Be aware that there may be limitations at certain locations in Argentina in terms of specialty catering items. It’s best to talk with your ground handler to confirm local specialties and produce in season. If you’re operating to a mountainous area of Argentina, for example, fresh lobster and sushi might not be possible. Items not indigenous to the area, such as certain brands or wines, may also not be practical to source.
6. Transport considerations
Airside pick-up/drop-off is not an option at SAEZ unless your flight is diplomatic, air ambulance, or VVIP with prior approval. Rental cars are available at all international airports in Argentina. At smaller airports, however, you’ll need to book a car with driver. For security reasons, public taxis should be avoided, and it’s recommended to always use pre-paid transport (car with driver).
7. Airport security is generally good
Airport security is adequate at all airports in Argentina. Most airports have airport police – known as "PSA" (national police) – and there are security cameras, fences, and routine patrols of ramp areas. At some airfields security is by way of airport police, or private security companies, rather than national police.
8. Ramp access control
The only vendors allowed ramp access are those based at the airfield. All ground handlers, and vendors with access to the ramp, must have their IDs with them at all times. For all other vendors – such as off-airport catering providers – the ground handler will need to arrange airside access. Private vehicles are not permitted on the ramp at SAEZ unless the operation is VVIP, diplomatic, or air ambulance with specific approval. At other airports, permission may be granted for ramp access, but prior approval is always needed, and it’s at the discretion of airport authorities to approve or disapprove.
9. Crew access airside
In order for crew members to access the ramp and return to the aircraft prior to day of departure, the ground handler needs to arrange access by way of a letter to airport authorities. This letter must declare any items that will be removed from the aircraft, and at least 24 hours’ notice is required.
10. Private security is possible for your aircraft
Airports in Argentina are secure, and private security is generally not recommended. Private aircraft security – both armed and unarmed guards – are allowable in Argentina if the operator requests such service. Provide at least 24 hours’ notice for aircraft guard arrangements. Short-notice requests may be accommodated.
11. Day-of-departure procedures
Your ground handler will meet passengers/crew members outside the main terminal and escort them with all baggage through security and Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine (CIQ) and to the aircraft. It’s important to communicate with both the passengers and ground handler to ensure you have the right meeting point. Note that if you’re only making a tech stop in Argentina, CIQ clearances are required.
Additional pre-planning and advance notification are suggested when organizing in-flight catering in Argentina. Airport security is generally good in this region. Crew members should, however, be mindful of potential complexities in returning to their aircraft prior to day of operation.
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