Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Important Airport Considerations
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.
For business aircraft operators traveling to and within Argentina, it is important to understand airport considerations and their potential impact on your operation. For example, you may need to know when it is necessary to have a Spanish speaker onboard to communicate to Air Traffic Control (ATC) or what your clearance options are if you choose to land at a “domestic” airport versus an official Airport of Entry (AOE).
To help you in preplanning a mission to Argentina, below is an overview of key airport considerations you should know:
1. Restrictions, curfews and operating hours
Airports in Argentina have different operating hours. While large AOEs such as Ministro Pistarini/Buenos Ares (SAEZ) are 24/7 facilities, many smaller and domestic airports are not 24 hours. It’s best to confirm airport hours and Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) availability in advance. Also, be aware that smaller and domestic airports in Argentina often do not have English-speaking ATC. You’ll need to arrange to have a Spanish-speaking pilot onboard to assist in operations to these locations. Always confirm, with your ground handler, if English-speaking ATC personnel are available. When operating to El Calafate (SAWC), for example, there are no English-speaking ATC personnel. All the same, there are currently no noise restrictions at any airport in Argentina.
2. CIQ availability at secondary airfields
It’s important to ensure that your chosen airport has CIQ on site and hours that this service is available. Smaller and domestic airfields will usually accommodate international arrivals with sufficient notification. Cordoba (SACO), for example, has CIQ hours of 0900-1800 local from Monday to Friday. If you wish to clear CIQ before/after this time, special permission must be obtained by your ground handler, and there are per hour overtime fees involved. At certain domestic airports, CIQ can be repositioned with advance notification. Extra fees are applicable to “internationalize” an airport, and in some cases you’ll be charged for transporting CIQ personnel to/from the airport, in addition to the charges for the clearance itself.
3. Aircraft parking tips
Aircraft parking in Argentina is generally not separated into commercial and General Aviation (GA). The exception is San Fernando (SADF), where there is only GA parking, and aircraft of 30 metric tons (GLF3) or less must park at a private apron or hangar because the airport concessionary (airport authorities) may not have parking positions available.
Across all airports, tow bars are seldom needed as GA aircraft usually power in/out of parking stands. It’s rare for a parked aircraft to need to be repositioned at any airport in Argentina, but crew must always be present for such moves. If you do need to access the ramp to supervise movement of your aircraft, be aware that you’ll need a letter from police authorizing airside access, and you’ll be escorted by a ground handler at all times. Airside access arrangements prior to day of operation normally require at least 24 hours’ notice.
4. Flight planning tips
In Argentina, flight plans must be submitted at least 45 minutes prior to international departure. Your ground handler will fill out International Civil Aviation Organization portions of the flight plan with information including the captain’s name, route, and arrival/departure airports. Handlers will present all original aircraft and crew documentation to the flight planning office for review, along with the flight plan form – prior to a flight plan being issued. Note that flight plans are only valid for 30 minutes. If you do not depart within 30 minutes, you’ll need to request a delay in writing, and your ground handler must go back to the flight planning office to obtain a revised flight plan.
5. Most frequently visited destinations
SAEZ, located about 40 minutes from the Buenos Aires city center, is the most popular airport in Argentina, and it’s busy on a continuous basis with scheduled commercial traffic. This congestion can cause delays in terms of fuel uplifts and aircraft parking confirmations. Cordoba (SACO) and Mendoza (SAME), likewise, are also busy with scheduled commercial traffic. For other airports, congestion and peak traffic hours are not usually a factor. Airports in Argentina also routinely used by GA include:
- Iguazu (SARI) (to see the waterfalls)
- El Calafate (SAWC) (to see the glaciers)
- Ushuaia (SAWH) (to ski)
- Rosario (SAAR) (to visit local factories)
6. Use of military apron
In certain situations, use of the military apron at Aeroparque (SABE) for flights such as diplomatic flights, air ambulance operations, or special invitations by the Argentinean government, may be possible with prior arrangement. Most GA operations, however, will not be permitted to use military airports.
7. Seasonality considerations
As Argentina is well into the southern hemisphere, winters run from June to August, while summer is from December to February. Snow removal and de-icing equipment is in good supply during the winter; however, no hangar space is available for transient aircraft. Busiest season for GA in Argentina is typically summer.
8. Airport procedures
Foreign-registered aircraft may stay in Argentina up to 45 days. You’ll need special permission from government authorities to stay in-country longer, and ground handlers can assist with such requests. The flight plan office (known locally as Aroais) needs to see original copies of your registration and airworthiness certificates, worldwide insurance, and pilot licenses/medicals for all arrivals/departures in Argentina. Ground handlers will take original paperwork to the flight planning office where the documents will be photocopied. Be mindful that original documentation must always be presented in order to file flight plans in Argentina.
With proper preparedness, a trip to Argentina will be a seamless one. To make it as smooth as possible, work closely with your local ground handler and/or 3rd-party trip support provider.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
Later, we’ll discuss ground handling for Argentina and their impact on your trip.