Overview of BizAv Ops Procedures for Buenos Aires

Overview of BizAv Ops Procedures for Buenos Aires

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.

Buenos Aires is Argentina’s big cosmopolitan capital and the second largest metropolitan area in South America. This is a key business and cultural hub and a frequent destination for General Aviation (GA) traffic. Business aircraft operators, however, need to be mindful of particular permit lead times, documentation, and recent new operating requirements.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Airport options

GA operations to Buenos Aires are normally handled at Ministro Pistrarini (SAEZ), about a 40-minute drive from the city center. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (SABE), the downtown airport, does not normally accept GA movements except in the cases of air ambulance flights, visits to government entities, and prior approval has been obtained. Note that it’s not even permitted to use SABE as an alternate on GA flight plans. Recommended alternates for SAEZ include San Fernando Int.’l (SADF), 23 Nautical Miles (NM) from SAEZ and with a 5,544-foot (ft.) runway, and Rosario Int.’l (SAAR) at a distance of 161 NM from SAEZ with a 9,842-ft. runway.

2. SAEZ conditions and restrictions

SAEZ is a 24-hour airport of entry with plenty of parking and full GA services/support available. All runways, taxiways, and parking ramp areas are in good condition. No airport slots or prior permissions required are needed for this location, and no operating curfews are currently in effect. Peak hours of scheduled commercial activity have not been an issue for GA since the new General Aviation Terminal (GAT) opened on the field recently. Also, as no noise restrictions are in place, operation of Stage 2 aircraft is permitted at SAEZ.

3. New General Aviation Terminal

SAEZ has a new GAT, and using it is mandatory for private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators, as of July 2015. The GAT operates 24/7, there’s a flat fee for using this facility, and it involves a much shorter walk from the parking area than at the old facility. Customs, immigration, and quarantine clearance is quick at this facility, usually under 10 minutes. The GAT has VIP lounges, meeting rooms, crew areas, Internet, and showers. From our experience this has made the arrival/departure process much easier for operators.

4. GAT procedures

GA aircraft are typically parked close to the GAT with the furthest parking spot being approximately 657 ft. from the facility. Note that all luggage and loose items from the aircraft must be offloaded from the aircraft and brought into the terminal to be scanned and inspected. Any items that are not affixed to the aircraft, with the exception of galley equipment and supplies, must be removed and remain off the aircraft for the duration of your stay.

5. Landing permit considerations for Argentina

Landing permits are only required for aircraft that have 30 or more passenger seats and/or are in commercial configuration. The issuing authority is the Administracion Nacional de Aviacion Civil (ANAC) which is only available to process requests during normal business hours Monday-Friday. We recommend planning on lead times of four weeks for these landing permit requests. Normal practice is to forward required documentation – such as registration and airworthiness certificates as well as worldwide liability insurance coverage apostilled in the country of origin – to your ground handler. The documentation must be translated in Argentina by a certificated translator, and there is a cost for this service. Operators also must provide a letter of legal representation to secure permits. This letter allows the ground handler to process the permit on your behalf.

A special permit is needed for all GA travel to the Falkland Islands. For flights to the Falkland Islands, it’s best to speak to your 3rd-party provider to gain the details and options for traveling there.

6. Ground handling requests

For ground handling requests, it’s best to provide your handler advanced notice of one week. Short-notice handling requests, however, are not an issue, and arrangements can be made quickly for your stay at SAEZ.

7. Visas and reciprocity fees

Argentina requires visas for many nationalities of passengers, and such visas must always be obtained prior to arrival. In the case of Canadian, and Australian nationals, “reciprocity fees” must be paid prior to arrival. These fees may be paid online by passengers, ground handlers, or 3rd-party providers by supplying full names, passport numbers/expiry dates, and nationalities. Reciprocity fee cost is 150 USD for five years for Canadians, and 100 USD for one year for Australians. Once a reciprocity fee has been paid online, a hard copy needs to be printed and shown to immigration authorities upon your arrival in Argentina.

For more on this, read article Argentinian Reciprocity Rate Changes by Laura Everington.

4/4/2016: Updated by the author.

8. Crew members do not require visas

Crew members listed on the gen dec do not require either visas or reciprocity fee payments to enter Argentina regardless of nationality. There’s no limit to permitted length of stay in country for those arriving/departing as crew members. In the case of those who arrive as crew members aboard a GA flight but depart as passengers, your ground handler will need to prepare a letter and present it to authorities for approval. It’s important to have this approval obtained prior to departure to avoid issues.

9. Documentation requirements

On both arrival and departure, crews must present original copies of airworthiness and registration certificates, aircraft insurance, pilot licenses and medical certificates. These documents are presented to AROAIS, the airport authority, whose staff will make copies for their records. Be mindful that these original documents must be presented for each arrival and departure at every stop in Argentina, including domestic stops.

10. Gen dec considerations

On your arrival in Argentina, eight copies of the gen dec – normally prepared by your ground hander – are required. It’s important to ensure that full names, passport numbers/expiration dates, nationalities, and dates of birth of all passengers/crew members be forwarded to your handler in advance. On arrival the crew will receive a copy of the gen dec with stamps from multiple different authorities, including police, customs, and immigration.

11. Domestic operations

When you are departing SAEZ for a domestic leg, a special form needs to be obtained from airport police. Your ground handler will complete this form, airport police authorities will sign it, and a copy must be retained onboard with the crew.

12. Quarantine considerations

All aircraft arriving in Argentina must be treated with an aerosol insecticide spray prior to landing. Proof that the aircraft cabin has been sprayed must be presented to authorities on arrival. Note that this requirement exists for all stops within Argentina, and fines are possible for non-compliance.

13. Fuel uplift considerations

From time to time, you may experience fuel uplift delays at SAEZ as fueling priority is always given to scheduled commercial operations. Fueling delays are more likely 1800-2300 local due to heightened scheduled commercial activity. To avoid possible delays day of departure, we recommend uplifting fuel on arrival or the day prior to departure.

14. Private vs. charter flights

GA flights with fewer than 30 passenger seats are usually considered “private” while aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats or larger aircraft in commercial configuration are considered “charter.” In the case of larger aircraft – an Airbus ACJ or Boeing BBJ and larger – with fewer than 30 passenger seats, you should provide evidence to ensure the flight will not be classified as a commercial charter. A signed statement by the crew, along with a floor plan, should suffice in this regard.

15. Parking and ground support equipment considerations

There are rarely issues at SAEZ in terms of aircraft parking availability. In most cases parking stands are power-in/power-out, and aircraft are not usually repositioned once parked. While the ramp company at SAEZ is adequately stocked with ground support equipment, there are some cases when operators are advised to bring their own tow bars.

16. Airport restrictions for Argentina

For operation to some smaller domestic airports in Argentina, such as El Calafate (SAWC), a Spanish-speaking pilot or translator is needed as there are no English-speaking air traffic control personnel at this location.


Plan on sufficient lead time for your landing permit request when needed, and be sure to have all required original documentation available to present to authorities on arrival. Always ensure that required visas have been obtained, and reciprocity fees paid, prior to arrival in Argentina.


If you have any questions about this article, contact me at mercedes.puppo@munser.com.