Operating a business jet to Argentina
Over the last few years, Argentina has become an increasingly popular destination for business aviation, particularly among operators who travel regionally between Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. While Argentina is a relatively straightforward operating environment for business aviation, with manageable permit processes and no cabotage issues, it’s best to have at least one week’s notice when planning a trip to the country. This gives you time to plan permits and ground services, as well as to obtain needed overflight permits for surrounding countries: Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
The following is an overview of what you need to know when operating to Argentina:
1. The flight plan filing process
In Argentina, flight plans must be submitted in person at least two hours prior to international departure. Your ground handler will fill out the ICAO portions of the flight plan with all required information and will physically hand it off to the flight planning office for review, along with the flight plan form – prior to a flight plan being issued. Note that flight plans are only valid for 30 minutes after ETD.
Universal Aviation Argentina supports airports across Argentina and can assist with this.
2. Flight plan revisions
If you do not depart within the 30-minute validity window, the flight plan must be refiled. A maximum of three times using DLA FORM revisions are permitted. Flight plan revisions (DLA) can´t be done via phone and must be done by a licensed flight dispatcher or PIC at the flight planning office (who must provide dispatch license information). In practice, it’s often difficult for a PIC to submit/refile flight plans directly, as flight plan office personnel in Argentina do not usually speak English, and flight plans must be filed in English or Spanish. Also, flight plan offices are in restricted areas, and prior permission is needed to enter these areas. For these reasons, it’s best to have your ground handler file and revise flight plans. It’s important to ensure, for compliance reasons, that your ground handler has an appropriate dispatch license.
3. Language considerations
If you’re operating with non-Spanish-speaking crew members, be aware that the only airport in Argentina that has Air Traffic Control (ATC) with English-speaking capabilities are Buenos Aires – Ezeiza (SAEZ), Aeroparque (SABE), San Fernando (SADF) , Iguazu (SARI), Rosario (SAAR), Neuquen (SAZN), Bariloche (SAZS), Salta (SASA), Tucuman (SANT), Mar del Plata (SAZM), Mendoza (SAME), Comodoro Rivadavia (SAVC). When you operate to other airports, it’s recommended, but not officially required, to have Spanish-speaking crew members or a local navigator onboard. Your ground handler may have personnel on staff who would qualify to travel onboard your aircraft to translate. There are extra costs involved, but this person will also be able to supervise ground handling at the destination.
4. Standard documentation requirements
Standard documents, including registration and airworthiness certificates and worldwide insurance, should always be carried onboard the aircraft. Both pilot and first officer must have appropriate aircraft type ratings and licenses issued by the country in which the aircraft is registered and medical certificates. In lieu of this, you must have an original letter of authority from that governing authority (i.e., Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] or Federal Aviation Administration [FAA]) authorizing the pilot to fly the aircraft. Authorities have been known to enforce this regulation randomly at different airports. On international arrivals, the aircraft cabin must be sprayed with insecticide (specifically, DDT) at top of decent.
Instituto Nationale de Aeronautica Civil (INAC) is the approving authority in Argentina for landing and overflight permits. Note that landing and overflight permits aren’t required if the first airport of entry (AOE) is an international airport.
Permits are valid -/+ 12 hours from approved date/time. If date/time changes beyond the approved window, a permit revision is required. Passenger changes involve just a notification; however, changes to crew require a permit revision, and new documentation will need to be submitted to INAC.
Argentina landing permits are required only for flights on scheduled commercial or large aircraft (C class or above) – for which individual tickets are sold – not for military flights, and flights to the Falkland Islands. Official lead time for a charter flight landing permit is seven days, but permits can often be obtained within 48 hours at CAA’s discretion. Keep in mind that if you’re operating very large GA aircraft – such as a BBJ, Airbus 340, etc. – CAA may consider your aircraft commercial equipment due to its size. Best practice is to forward aircraft configuration in advance to indicate that the aircraft is private non-revenue and not commercial.
6. Charter requirements
Landing permits have to be arranged with ANAC (Civil Aviation National Administration). The following documentation needs to be apostilled in the country of origin, and then translated in Argentina (airworthiness, registration, insurance, crew licenses, and medical certificates), also you’ll need a legal representative in the country to issue a letter of legal representation. We will have to estimate all that procedure, however, if the aircraft has come during the course of one year this procedure will not be necessary.
7. Buenos Aires airports
Buenos Aires is the most popular destination in Argentina. The most congested airports in Argentina are SAEZ and SABE. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is currently in place for general aviation at SABE – a joint-use civil/military airfield – due to airport and aircraft parking congestion and due to the fact that this is a primarily domestic airport. Currently, no other airports in the country have PPR requirements.
The four primary airports that serve Buenos Aires are:
- Buenos Aires – Ezeiza (SAEZ) – is an international airport open 24/7 with no restrictions. It is located 35 km southwest of the city with an approximate drive time to downtown of 40-45 minutes.
- Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (SABE) – is open 24/7 but is not an AOE and requires PPR. No parking is available, and the airport can only be used with special permission from the government. The airport is located in the Palermo Ward along the Rio de la Plata northeast of the city. It is nine km from city center with a drive time of 20 minutes.
- San Fernando (SADF) – is an international airport open 24/7 but only for aircraft with MTOW less than 30 tons. It is located 21 km north of the city with an approximate drive time to downtown of 25 minutes.
- El Palomar (SADP) – is an international airport with Spanish-only ATC with parking available on request. The airport is located 32 km west of Buenos Aires with an approximate drive time to downtown of 40-45 minutes.
Universal Aviation Argentina can support you at any of these airports.
8. Other popular destinations
9. Tech stops
Argentina does not consider any stop as a tech stop only. All standard CIQ procedures must be followed – including customs/immigration clearance. Note that the clearance process takes approximately three minutes per person, and all luggage must be removed from the aircraft to be scanned and cleared. After CIQ clearance is completed, crew/passengers will be escorted by the ground handler back to the aircraft.
10. Falkland Islands operating restrictions
If you use Argentinean airspace, a permit is required to operate into/out of the Falkland Islands (known as “Islas Malvinas” in Argentina). Permit lead time for this destination is seven business days, with documentation requirements similar to those for a charter permit, and the permit is processed through the Argentinian Air Force. In the past only aircraft of Argentinean or British registry have been able to obtain landing permits for the islands. If you do not use Argentinean airspace when traveling to/from the Falkland Islands, you’ll need to obtain landing permit and PPR from the British military. Recommended routing to the Falkland Islands involves a departure from Uruguay with a modified routing to avoid Argentinean airspace.
11. Remote airports
Many secondary locations in Argentina are domestic-only airports. This means that you’ll have to clear customs, immigration, and quarantine inbound/outbound from an airport of entry. Airport hours should be considered at more remote locations. Be aware that airport overtime can be requested in Argentina with at least three business days’ advance notification. Best practice is to send a ground handler in advance to secondary locations in Argentina to supervise the ground handling.
Universal Aviation Argentina can support you with this.
Aircraft parking in Argentina is generally not separated into commercial GA. The exception is San Fernando (SADF), where there is only GA parking, and aircraft of 30 metric tons (GLF3) or less must park at a private apron or hangar because the airport concessionary (airport authorities) may not have parking positions available.
Across all airports, tow bars are seldom needed as GA aircraft usually power in/out of parking stands. It’s rare for a parked aircraft to need to be repositioned at any airport in Argentina, but crew must always be present for such moves. If you do need to access the ramp to supervise movement of your aircraft, be aware that you’ll need a letter from police authorizing airside access, and you’ll be escorted by a ground handler at all times. Airside access arrangements prior to day of operation normally require at least 24 hours’ notice.
13. Argentinean reciprocity fees
No reciprocity fees are required for any citizen.
Crew members, regardless of nationality, do not require visas for Argentina. Passengers who need visas, however, must obtain visas in advance as visas cannot be obtained on arrival.
For passengers, here is the official link to determine whether visas are required.
Although vaccinations are not officially needed for this country, it’s important to note that if you travel to Brazil after Argentina, Brazilian authorities will want you to obtain a yellow fever vaccination.
15. In-flight catering
Be aware that in Argentina all open and non-shelf-stable catering will be removed and disposed of. In some cases, your ground handler may obtain permission to store onboard in-flight catering at their facility, but this is not always possible, and permission will not be known until the aircraft arrives. For this reason it’s best to arrange in-flight catering for departure rather than bring additional catering onboard for the return/onward leg.
You can check the free Air Culinaire Worldwide Menu app to see catering options and menus available.
At larger airports in Argentina, flight planning offices have the capability to provide full weather reports, weather updates, and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) in English. NOTAMs in Argentina are issued in both English and Spanish. At many smaller airports, however, weather and NOTAMs may only be available over the phone in Spanish, as authorities don’t have the means to send this information to you via e-mail or fax. In that case, your ground handler will need to translate the weather data.
As Argentina is well into the southern hemisphere, winters run from June to August, while summer is from December to February. Snow removal and de-icing equipment is in good supply during the winter; however, no hangar space is available for transient aircraft. Busiest season for GA in Argentina is typically summer.
In the Buenos Aires area, summer temperatures can be high – in the mid-30- to mid-40-degree Celsius range – and humidity is often high. During winter, early-morning fog can be an issue at Buenos Aires (SAEZ), but this usually does not shut down the airport. In Southern Argentina there can be snow and subzero temperatures during June through August, and this impacts locations such as SAWC. There’s a pronounced rainy season in the area of Iguazu (SARI) during summer months. From time to time, there may be volcanic ash considerations close to the border with Chile, and this may affect operations at San Carlos de Bariloche (SAZS).
Aviation fuel releases should be forwarded at least 24 hours in advance (Monday-Friday) in order to arrange for fuel uplifts in Argentina. This is critical for all operations other than air ambulance, diplomatic, or emergency flights. If you have not arranged your uplift in advance, with a fuel release, you’ll need to pay posted price with cash or credit card. Always copy your ground handler on fuel releases, so they can follow up with the appropriate fueler and update any schedule changes.
There are three aviation fuel companies at Buenos Aires (SAEZ) and two at Cordoba (SACO). At most other airports in Argentina, there’s only the government fueler available. Be aware that a few airports in Argentina do not have any aviation fuel available. Airport fuelers are available the same hours that the appropriate airport is open. Note that fuelers give priority to scheduled commercial aviation, so delays are possible. As fuel delays can be one hour or more depending on airport congestion, it’s recommended that aviation fuel be uplifted as per ground handler’s suggestion either on arrival or departure.
Aviation fuel prices in Argentina are per liter, and there may be additional into-plane and other charges associated with uplifts. Depending on the nature of your flight – international or domestic – different taxes will be applied. The captain, or another crew member such as the Second in Command or flight mechanic, must be present during fueling and will need to present both crew ID and the appropriate fuel card.
18. Ground transportation
For security purposes it is recommended to avoid public transportation and consider vetted pre-paid transportation (car and driver). If you’re bringing hunting weapons to Argentina, always provide prior notification – and complete a “Temporary Authorization of Arms” form which can be downloaded here – to avoid delays and problems on arrival.
You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs.
19. Peak travel seasons
Peak travel season in Argentina is June through August. Other upcoming periods of high traffic, include:
- Polo season: This begins in September and lasts through December and includes the 126th HSBC Argentine Open Polo Tournament – Nov 21-Dec 12, 2019
- Dove hunting is extremely popular in Argentina and draws hunters from around the world. Dove season is year-round but the locations change. From July-March hunts take place at lodges. From March-July, hunts are in the mountains.
- ArteBA (Int’l Art Festival) – April
- Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (wine festival) – February
Traveling to Argentina is fairly straight forward, but it’s best to allow at least a weeks’ lead time to make arrangements for permits, services, navigators, etc. We strongly recommendation you work with an experienced trip support provider when operating into this region, and of course, our team here at Universal is always ready to assist you! You can request a trip cost estimate for your next mission online.