Mexico Charter Operations: Landing Permits and Cabotage
This is a post by author Manuel Girault. Manuel is the general director at Universal Aviation Mexico, which has an FBO facility in Toluca and aircraft ground handling facilities in Cancun, Los Cabos and Cozumel. Manuel is an expert on business aircraft operations in Mexico and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Mexico and continues from our last article: "Operational Tips for Mexico – Landing Permits for Private Aircraft."
For charter flight operations into Mexico, two major considerations are landing permits and cabotage. In terms of permits, blanket charter landing permits are the preferred option for regular operators to Mexico. This process is document-intensive, requires a long lead time and involves ongoing reporting responsibilities. In almost every case, you’ll need a 3rd-party provider to help manage paperwork and reporting requirements involved with blanket charter permits.
In terms of cabotage, operators need to be aware of Mexico’s specific regulations impacting charter ops, as these are complex and have been strictly enforced over recent years.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. One-time charter landing permits may only be used five times
One-time charter landing permits must be requested prior to arrival in Mexico and require at least 72 hours’ notice, together with the required documentation. Once the landing permit is approved, DGAC will provide written confirmation. Keep in mind that a maximum of five one-time permits are allowed for any operator and not per aircraft. For this reason, operators planning multiple trips to Mexico should consider blanket permits.
2. Blanket charter landing permits involve long lead times
Blanket charter permits may take three-five months to process and can cover unlimited one-stop operations to Mexico. Once you have this permit, it’s necessary to submit monthly operating reports – even if you don’t fly to Mexico during a particular month. In most cases, you’ll have a local representative submit these reports, along with a letter from the operator, stating that you’ve complied with payment of all charges due and have not violated any regulations (including cabotage) while in Mexico.
3. Use a 3rd-party provider for blanket charter permit requests
Even if you’ve submitted the blanket charter permit application directly, you’ll need a representative in Mexico to fulfill ongoing requirements as mandated by DGAC and overcome language barriers. Note that operators must provide an original notarized letter – in Spanish, on company letterhead and signed by the owner – indicating who they’d like to be their representative. Be aware that permit revisions other than changes to insurance documents can require two-three months. Until a revision is approved by DGAC, the aircraft cannot operate under an existing blanket permit.
4. Know blanket charter permit requirements
Applicants must provide, for each aircraft, copies of certificates of registration and airworthiness and noise certificates. Only aircraft that are Stage 3 noise-compliant and above may be listed on the blanket permit. A copy of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) must also be provided, along with an original copy of the Mexican insurance – with proof of payment original receipt – and a copy of your worldwide insurance. There are other requirements – including company articles of incorporation (translated into Spanish) – and it’s best to confirm all of these requirements with your 3rd-party provider.
5. Know how cabotage regulations in Mexico impact your flight
Cabotage regulations impact charter operations but not private non-revenue ops. Charter operators are only permitted one stop in Mexico. The only exception is for technical stops – fuel uplifts – or if the aircraft is required to land at Cozumel (MMCZ) or Tapachula (MMTP) for security screening – when arriving from south of Mexico or from the Caribbean region. Be aware that you may only drop off and pick up passengers from one location while in the country. If you drop passengers at Toluca (MMTO) and pick them up at Cancun (MMUN), for example, the aircraft needs to leave the country and return empty to MMUN. Additionally, if you have not transported the passengers to Mexico, you may not fly to Mexico to pick them up. For example, if charter company X dropped them off, then charter company Y cannot pick them up. If passengers fly to Mexico by commercial airline, it’s not permissible for them to leave the country aboard a non-Mexican charter aircraft.
6. There are special considerations if your aircraft has more than 15 seats
In Mexico any aircraft with more than 15 seats is considered scheduled commercial. In the case of a charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight, documents should be submitted in advance, along with a signed contract between the charter company and the passenger, to prove that the flight is charter and not scheduled commercial.
7. There are penalties for cabotage violations
If an operator is found to have violated cabotage regulations, the aircraft will be grounded and held in Mexico until the infraction is resolved. A report must be sent to DGAC, and they’ll determine the penalty for any cabotage violation. Be aware that your aircraft may remain grounded for a week, or longer, while penalties are determined and fines are paid via a Mexican bank.
Before operating into Mexico, it’s best to consult with your 3rd-party provider to make sure you are working with the latest information. For additional guidance, you can read the articles covering business aircraft ops to Mexico on this blog.
If you have any questions about this article or if you would like assistance with planning your next trip to Mexico, contact me at email@example.com.
Later, we’ll discuss flight planning and weather for Mexico and their impact on your trip.