How the new GAT at SBGR in Sao Paulo impacts business aviation

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A new general aviation terminal recently opened at São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport (SBGR). This terminal is owned and operated by GAT GRU, a consortium that was awarded by the SBGR airport authorities.

Since the opening, there has been confusion among operators on whether or not they are required to use the GAT, if they still need a ground handler, and how pricing of the GAT is charged.

Universal Aviation Brazil is working closely with SBGR officials and GAT GRU management in order to enhance the transparency of the process. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know.

 1. New GAT opened Oct. 21, 2019

Effective October, 21, 2019 all international GA operations at SBGR will be through the new GAT. Although this adds convenience to the traveler, there are concerns that need to be taken into account when traveling to this location.

The GAT is restricted to one operation at a time. Although they don’t conflict very often, be aware that crew and passengers will need to wait in the aircraft until it gets to their turn.

2. Handlers still required

All GA operations to SBGR still require a handling agent. Crew and pax are only allowed inside the aircraft ground perimeter. Universal Aviation Brazil is still the liaison providing all pre arrival coordination in order to guarantee the best ground experience as well as transport passengers and crew from the aircraft to the GAT. Additionally, Universal Aviation Brazil will also ensure operators understand upfront all fees associated with using the various amenities within the GAT.

3. Be prepared for more thorough inspections

The authorities will be completely dedicated to the crew and passengers arriving and departing. For this reason, inspections will be more complete than they were when the operation was in the commercial aviation terminal.

The preparation for a trip will also be more detailed. While in the past just a Gendec would work, now the handler will need to send the crew and pax manifest to the customs authorities within 24 hours along with any updates.

4. What if I have schedule changes?

For domestic flights, there shouldn’t be a problem, but for international arrivals or departures, make sure to advise your handler of any schedule changes with more than four hours of advance so there can be time enough to inform the CIQ authorities.

Changes informed within four hours are subject to the officer availability.

5. What if I have pets onboard?

There is only one quarantine agent on the whole airport per shift, so you may expect long waits until the agent is able to get to the aircraft.

6. CIQ process

Customs has committed to having staff available to clear GA aircraft at all times. However, Customs and Immigration officers are not stationed at the new GAT; therefore, they will only be present at the time of operation, requiring advanced notice. For that reason, everyone (crew and passengers) will have to disembark at the same time. Meanwhile, one of the crew members can stay behind in order to keep the APU running; however, the authorities will wait a maximum of 15 minutes for remaining crew to disembark and clear immigration as well.

After all crew members are cleared, they can return to the aircraft, bearing only the essentials to keep working on their aircraft. All baggage will be stored at GAT GRU facilities until they are ready to exit the airport.

Customs agents work both commercial and GA terminals, so their availability has not yet been tested.  Further, if multiple aircraft arrive to the GAT close to the same time, only one aircraft will be cleared at a time in order of arrival, and the passengers of the subsequent aircraft will have to await clearing onboard.

7. GAT fees and $1,700 VIP lounge “extras”

What’s created significant confusion and aggravation to operators since the opening of the GAT is a lack of transparency on pricing and significant additional fees being charged for using the VIP lounge and services, which are NOT included in the regular required usage of the GAT.

IMPORTANT: Any use of the VIP lounge and its facilities will be charged $1700 USD, regardless how “minor” the usage may be.

  • What is included in GAT access? The standard airport fee grants the operator the ability to embark and disembark through the GAT.
  • What is not included? Access to the GAT doesn’t grant some amenities that are commonly available in most GATs and hangars around the world, like restroom usage. Therefore, an unaware pax, crew, and/or meeting party may be charged a VIP facility fee just for small actions.

For example, car parking, VIP lounge access, restrooms, and baggage cart are not included in GAT access and are considered part of the VIP lounge.

There have been multiple reports of passengers being charged a large fee for simply entering the VIP lounge by accident, sitting in a lounge chair, or using the restrooms within the lounge.

8. Is it mandatory to use the GAT and pay the VIP fee?

Operators in coordination with their handler can opt to use the GAT paying the VIP fee or take the free process available.

When entering the GAT from the ramp, the receptionist desk is to the right and the VIP lounge is to the left.  Veering to the left will be deemed use of the VIP lounge. There is a bench directly next to the receptionist desk that can be used for waiting free of charge without incurring the VIP usage fee..

There is a demarcated area outside designated for VIP pick up. If a vehicle enters that delineated area, the $1,700 USD will be charged. The area that is outside the VIP pickup is not far, but it is not covered and will be an issue in the rain. Furthermore, it is conceivable that security will become an issue for passengers whose vehicles drop them off outside the VIP area.

Even though GRU airport and GAT GRU are making available the “non-payment process,” we advise that this process is not passenger-and-crew- friendly and many operations may end up paying the full VIP terminal fee just by using the restroom or parking close to the terminal.

Conclusion:

Both frequent and non-frequent flyers will enjoy the benefits of the new terminal, but in order to avoid “surprise” fees, it’s best to understand the layout of the GAT and work closely with your ground handler. Universal Aviation Brazil is working closely with the airport and the GAT operator to increase transparency on pricing and processes and will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.


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