Traveling to Mexico for Raiders vs. Patriots Game – Part 1: Airports, Handling and Local Area
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Mexico City for the upcoming large events.
This is a post by author Manuel Girault and Jana Lopez. Manuel and Jana are based at Universal Aviation Mexico, which has an FBO facility in Toluca and aircraft ground handling facilities in Cancun, Los Cabos, and Cozumel. Manuel and Jana are experts on business aircraft operations in Mexico and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Raiders vs. Patriots game takes place in Mexico City November 19. As this sporting event will bring additional general aviation (GA) traffic into the Mexico City area business aircraft operators are advised to organize all needed arrangements – both aircraft support and crew accommodations – at least a month prior.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Large events in Mexico City
The Formula 1 Gran Premio de México 2017 race will be underway in Mexico City October 27–29, followed by the Raiders vs. Patriots game November 19. While the Grand Prix is expected to put more pressure on local GA parking and accommodation options, the NFL game will also bump up GA operations. At this time we do not expect parking issues or special slot implementation mandates for either event.
2. Preferred airport – Toluca
Although Mexico City (MMMX) is closest airport to the event venues, it’s not generally available for GA operations. MMMX is normally restricted to scheduled commercial operations and qualifying diplomatic movements, with all other operators requiring special permission to land there. The preferred airport, therefore, will be Toluca (MMTO).
MMTO is 24–hour airport of entry (AOE) complete with fixed–base operators (FBOs), aviation fuel, credit and all GA support services. MMTO is about a 60–minute drive to Mexico City, depending upon traffic and your destination in the city.
3. Alternate airports
There are no close alternates to MMTO when operating to the Mexico City area. Queretaro (MMQT) would be the closest practical GA alternate, but it’s some distance from Mexico City. Drive time from MMQT to Mexico City is about 150 minutes. MMQT is a 24–hour AOE, without parking restrictions, airport slots or prior permission required (PPR) mandates. To reduce the commute time into Mexico City it’s possible to arrange helicopter charters. These transfers can take you close to your city center hotel but not directly to Grand PrixTM or NFL event venues.
4. Parking options
GA parking at MMTO is available on each individual FBO ramp. Some FBOs are very restricted on parking. When comparing FBOs on the field, ask them how closely they park aircraft next to each other per their ground operations safety procedures, as well as how often they will be repositioning the aircraft due to space restrictions. Hangar space for transient GA operations is also available but limited.
5. Peak hours
Peak operating hours at MMTO are 0700–1000 and 1700–2000 local. Fuel delays can be expected for GA when using ASA fuel services during these peak times. Note that during the evening, 2100–0600 local, there are fewer fuel trucks available and fuel delays are more likely. However, some FBOs—including our own—have their own fuel trucks to minimize such delays.
6. Fuel uplifts
Fuel services are available at MMTO from either ASA or the FBO’s fuel truck. ASA can fuel on any ramp but as scheduled commercial operations are top priority GA operators can expect delays of 40–90 minutes at times. If you plan to use ASA for uplifts it’s best to fuel on arrival to avoid departure delays. Operators should always make uplift arrangements in advance to ensure credit is in place. Note that outside ASA’s normal operating hours fuel uplifts are only available by cash or credit card at retail pricing. Prompt fuel services can be expected when using dedicated FBO fuel trucks, but you may only use fuel trucks associated with the FBO you’re parked at.
7. Airport security
Airport security is of high standards at MMTO, with good airside access controls along with patrols by military, federal police and airport guard services. It’s not necessary to arrange additional private security for your aircraft while parked at MMTO.
8. Off airport security
Mexico, just like any other country, has security risks and threats to be mindful of. For land transits between MMTO and Mexico City added precautions are recommended during night time. When in Mexico City avoid taking public taxis that have not been pre–vetted or arranged by your handler or hotel. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and avoid known higher risk areas, particularly at night.
9. Hotel and local transport
Demand for preferred hotel accommodations and pricing, will be higher than normal during both the Grand PrixTM and Raiders/Patriots period. For both events preferred hotels may sell out. While crew should not have a problem securing 4–star accommodations in the MMTO area this location is not recommended for passengers due to long travel times to event sites.
Pre–paid (car with driver) transport is preferred for moving to and within the Mexico City area. Your trip support provider and/or local handler can recommend vetted transport providers, but arrangements should be made as early as possible to obtain best options. While sedans are often available, SUV options are much more limited and usually require more notice. We do not recommend rental vehicles for the drive into Mexico City, or for travel within Mexico City due to road congestions and complicated traffic procedures.
10. More information
Additional information on the upcoming Mexican Grand Prix and Raiders vs. Patriots game can be found at:
Both of these events will have increased traffic, especially for hotels and transportation needs. At this time parking isn’t expected to be an issue for operators traveling to Mexico City for either event.