Operational Tips for Mexico – Jet Fuel, Security and Additional Services
This is a post by author Manuel Girault and Jorge Alva. Manuel and Jorge are based at Universal Aviation Mexico, which has an FBO facility in Toluca and aircraft ground handling facilities in Cancun, Los Cabos and Cozumel. Manuel and Jorge are experts on business aircraft operations in Mexico and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Mexico and continues from our last article: "Operational Tips for Mexico – PPRs and Slots."
When operating a business aircraft to Mexico, it’s important to plan in advance for fuel, and security, and other mission-critical services you will need for a successful trip.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Know the process for arranging jet fuel in Mexico
It’s always best to have your ground handler make advance arrangements for fuel and to indicate the quantity of fuel you require. A fuel release is your best alternative if you don’t have an aviation fuel card or a major credit card; however, to reduce your fuel costs, an aviation fuel card is recommended. Your ground handler will be able to arrange fuel credit with advance arrangements. On day of operation, your ground handler will re-confirm the jet fuel uplift, but be aware that priority is given to scheduled commercial airlines, and fuel is provided on a first-come-first-served basis. Best practice is to avoid scheduling jet fuel uplifts during peak hours of commercial operations. Also, consider fueling on arrival to avoid any issues or delays on day of departure.
2. Only one fuel provider may be available
For most airports, the only fueler on the field is Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA) – a government-owned and -operated entity. Very few airports in Mexico have private fuel trucks, and it’s important to be aware that most fuel truck drivers do not speak English. Anticipate delays in fuel delivery (as this is common in Mexico), even when arrangements have been made in advance, and be aware that fueling priority is given to commercial operations.
3. Be aware of posted price and various fuel fees
Posted fuel prices are updated every Tuesday and on the first of each month. Paying with credit cards gives you the posted price, while aviation fuel cards offer better pricing. You’ll pay value added tax (VAT) on all fuel uplifts – for either domestic or international flights – as well as Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano (SENEAM) charges to cover air navigation costs for Mexico. You’ll pay an into-plane fee when fueling from a private truck.
4. Know other fuel considerations
All airports in Mexico have fuel farms, and fuel testing may be done on request. Be aware that hydrant fuel service for general aviation is rarely available in Mexico, so plan on being fueled by a fuel truck.
HINT: Not familiar with these fuel terms? Brush up on these common aviation fuel terms.
5. Airport security is adequate in Mexico
Throughout Mexico, airport security is very good, with both airport police and military patrols of terminal and ramp areas. Your ground handler can arrange additional security for your aircraft while in Mexico, but only unarmed guards are permitted airside.
6. Ramp access is controlled
Your ground handler can assist in arranging ramp access permits for maintenance technicians. ID must be presented, a specific form needs to be completed, and personnel must be escorted by ground handlers at all times (unless the maintenance technician works for the airport). In-flight catering delivered by outside sources, including restaurants, is usually left with the ground handler, who takes it to the aircraft. Crew members will always be escorted to or from the aircraft by ground handlers, but no prior permission or paperwork is required.
7. Off-airport security is a consideration in Mexico
It’s always best to arrange pre-paid and vetted secure transportation when traveling from the airport to town. This is highly recommended when transiting between Toluca (MMTO) and Mexico City. Depending on the location, off-airport security for passengers/crew may be advised and 48 hours’ lead time is suggested when requesting these services. Before arriving in Mexico, it’s highly recommended that you obtain a detailed security briefing package from your 3rd-party trip planning provider.
8. Know screening procedures for passengers/crew
Passengers/crew are screened on arrival and departure with metal detectors, while luggage undergo X-ray screening. Luggage is opened and physically checked on a random basis, and that may add 10 minutes or so to the clearing process. For technical stops in Mexico, passengers/crew clear customs, immigration and quarantine and security screening, and luggage must be offloaded for screening.
9. Rental car facilities are located at larger airports
Rental vehicles can be arranged by your ground handler, but are not recommended unless you’re very familiar with the area. Be aware that rental vehicles are not readily available at remote airport locations.
10. Consider off-airport catering services
There’s an in-flight caterer on-site at MMTO, but other airports do not have caterers on the field. Your ground handler will assist with sourcing catering from local hotels and restaurants and make arrangements to bring this catering through airport security.
11. Plane-side pickup/drop-off is not permitted
Plane-side pickup/drop-off of passengers is generally not permitted in Mexico with the exception of diplomatic or medical evacuation flights. At MMTO, plane-side pickup is only permitted with a special authorization that must be requested in advance and only for handicapped persons or medical evacuation flights.
Always confirm jet fuel uplift requirements in advance and be aware that fuel delivery delays can be common occurrences in Mexico. Best fuel prices will be obtained when using aviation fuel cards.
In addition, it’s important to consider security briefings – particularly when operating to a destination in Mexico that you’re not familiar with. Always take precautions when off airport and be sure to use vetted and trusted local transport providers.
If you have any questions about this article or if you would like assistance with planning your next trip to Mexico, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.