Business Aviation Trip Planning: San Juan, Puerto Rico (TJSJ)
This is a post by author Luis Narvaez. Luis is general manager for Universal Aviation Puerto Rico, which has an aircraft ground handling facility in San Juan. Luis is an expert on business aircraft operations in Puerto Rico and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Juan (TJSJ) is a user-friendly airport for General Aviation (GA) both as a destination and tech stop. Full services and credit are available here. Keep in mind, however, that Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) hours differ from airport hours of operation. Always check with your ground handler as to any local restrictions prior to operating to this location.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. What are CIQ requirements at San Juan?
All arrivals, other than from the US mainland, must go through CIQ at the main terminal. The ground handler will escort crew/passengers to the terminal and bring luggage to be processed by x-ray. Crew/passengers clear CIQ through a separate entrance from commercial airline passengers, and the process takes approximately 45 minutes. The only option for clearance aboard an aircraft is for air ambulance flights. Although TJSJ is a 24-hour airport, with no airport slot or prior permission required (PPR) considerations, customs hours are 0800-2345 local. Overtime can be arranged, on a case-by-case basis, with at least eight hours’ prior notification. If you arrive at TJSJ before or after normal CIQ hours, without advising customs in advance, a fine will be imposed. CIQ requirements must always be advised in advance at TJSJ.
2. Are there differences in CIQ clearance for private non-revenue and charter operations?
CIQ procedures differ between private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. Your ground handler will need to know your type of flight, in advance of estimated time of arrival, to ensure appropriate CIQ arrangements are made.
3. What about agriculture and clearance of restricted items?
Any food brought onboard from international points must be removed and correctly disposed of, as per US Agriculture regulations. US Agriculture personnel operate 0800-2230 local, seven days a week, and will charge overtime for anything outside their normal operating hours. Fruits purchased in Puerto Rico – such as apples and pears– cannot be brought to the US mainland unless they’ve been peeled, sliced and appropriately packaged. In-flight catering companies take care of that for you with at least two hours’ prior notice. Firearms are not permitted onboard aircraft at TJSJ, unless airport authorities have been notified in advance. Provide at least 24 hours’ notification, along with full information on firearms – including serial numbers, weapon, and ammunition types.
4. What about tech stop considerations?
All international tech stops require CIQ clearance. A typical tech stop at TJSJ – for fuel uplift and CIQ – takes about 45 minutes. All support services and in-flight catering can be arranged and provided by your ground handler in a timely manner during tech stops.
5. When is high season at this location?
High season is November through April. During this period, hotel prices are increased, hotels have extended cancellation policies, and many hotels are sold out. During the busy period, the only available hotel options, in many cases, may be a 1.5-hour drive from the airport. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs June 1-November 30. Your ground handler will notify you if storms or hurricanes are forecasted to go through the region.
6. What about airport conditions and restrictions?
TJSJ has two runways: runway 8 (the longer runway) and runway 10. Stage 2 noise restrictions are in effect 1900-0700 local for runway 10. Runway 8 currently has no noise restrictions or noise abatement procedures, and no special notification is required for Stage 2 operations. Peak hours of operation at TJSJ are 1245-1745 local during high season, and 1245-2100 during other seasons. These peak periods do not, however, impact GA operations.
7. Are there aircraft fuel uplift considerations at this location?
Local fuelers accept aviation fuel cards, consumer credit cards, and cash. Fuel trucks typically arrive promptly and on schedule. Even if you don’t make a request until the last minute, you will typically not wait more than 10 minutes for a fuel truck at TJSJ. Be mindful that when an aircraft is fueled with passengers onboard, the fire department must come out, but there’s no extra charge.
When traveling to TJSJ during high season, it’s best to advise your ground handler of all service and fuel requests in advance. If you require CIQ clearance at TJSJ, be sure to pre-advise your ground handler as to the status of your operation – private non-revenue or charter.
If you have any questions about this article or if you would like assistance with planning your next trip to San Juan, contact me at email@example.com.