Business Aircraft Ops to Costa Rica: Ground Handling – Part 2

PT 3 M minute read
Business Aircraft Ops to Costa Rica: Ground Handling – Part 2

This is a post by author Delmark Muir. Delmark is managing director for Universal Aviation Costa Rica, which has aircraft ground-handling facilities in San Jose and Liberia. Delmark is an expert on business aircraft operations in Costa Rica and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Costa Rica and continues from our last article: "Business Aircraft Ops to Costa Rica: Ground Handling – Part 1."

Continuing from our last article covering ground handling in Costa Rica, there are some additional considerations when it comes to aircraft parking, in-flight catering, and using domestic airfields that you should be aware of when operating your business jet to this country.

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

1. Operation to domestic airports

If you plan to use a domestic airfield in Costa Rica, you’ll need to arrive/depart the country via an Airport of Entry (AOE). Be mindful that special permits are required for travel to domestic airfields, and obtaining these permits can be somewhat difficult. This permit is known as a temporary importation, usually takes seven to eight business days to obtain, and can only be applied for after you land at an AOE in Costa Rica. Not many operators request landing permission at domestic airfields. If you choose to do this, it’s best to hire a local company to assist with the process. Issues in operating to domestic airports include unavailability of ground handling services and minimal airport security.

2. Changes to schedule

While schedule changes will not affect your ground handling, they may impact parking options and at times involve delays. During high season there may be additional issues, in terms of schedule changes, as parking may be restricted or unavailable due to local airport congestion. High-season peak hours at San Jose (MROC) and Liberia (MRLB) are 1300-1600 local – particularly on weekends. During this period expect delays with aviation fuel uplifts, lav/water services, etc. due to increased activity on the ground and priority being given to scheduled commercial traffic.

3. Aircraft parking considerations

Parking fees in Costa Rica are assessed on an hourly basis based on aircraft maximum takeoff weight. If an operator wishes to extend his or her stay in Costa Rica, a parking extension will need to be requested. This may be approved, at the discretion of the local airport operations department, but will depend on aircraft parking availability and the season. Be aware that your aircraft may have to be repositioned several times, due to parking ramp availability.

Note that during high season (end of November till end of March), aircraft parking issues are common at Costa Rica’s four AOEs. NOTAMs may be issued limiting or prohibiting overnight General Aviation (GA) parking. There will be times when you’ll need to drop passengers and reposition aircraft to an alternate airport outside Costa Rica.

4. In-flight catering options

There’s only one in-flight catering company approved by the government of Costa Rica. A catering menu is available for GA, but operators may request items off-menu. While Costa Rica has a wide range of produce, meat, fish, and wine available, some items such as Kosher foods may be difficult to source. It’s best to provide 24-48 hours’ lead time for in-flight catering requests. Note that your ability to source catering directly from restaurants/hotels may be limited. If you attempt to bring "unofficial" catering to the airport, there’s a possibility you’ll not be permitted to take it airside. As some airports are stricter than others, in terms of self-catering from off-airport facilities, it’s important to review available options with your ground handler. Due to language barriers, in-flight catering requests are usually given to the ground handler who relays it to the in-flight caterer.

5. Additional Reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Costa Rica – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


Be aware of constraints when operating during the November-to-March high season and when using domestic airfields. Your local ground handler should be able to help you arrange a successful mission to this country, and give yourself an advantage by planning ahead as much as possible.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Costa Rica, contact me at

Later we’ll discuss fuel, additional services, and security for Costa Rica and their impact on your trip.