When to Hire Your Own Supervisory Agent for Remote Bizav Ops – Part 1
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on arranging supervisory agents for your destination.
When operating to a secondary, domestic-only, or remote international airport, you often are faced with the challenge of working with ground handlers who are not as experienced in handling business aircraft and/or cannot provide the level of support business aircraft operators typically expect. In these situations, it’s often advisable to bring in a third-party supervisory agent in order to ensure that the ground handling processes goes smoothly and unnecessary operator delays are avoided.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Supervision vs. handling
For a quick recap, read my previous article: Understanding FBOs, Ground Handlers, Supervisory Agents, and Their Differences
2. When to bring in supervisory agents
At many locations around the world, particularly those not frequented by general aviation (GA), there may be issues in obtaining all required services on the ground. It may be a case where the local handler is unfamiliar with the unique requirements of business aviation, where language may be an issue or where infrastructure and ground support equipment (GSE) is lacking. In certain remote locations dealing only with available local handling resources may lead to issues such as delays, confusion, issues with credit and errors in in-flight catering orders. Whenever operating to remote and infrequently visited locations it’s important to do what you can to ensure services, infrastructure, GSE and capabilities of local resources will be adequate for all anticipated needs.
3. Supervisory agent considerations
When considering supervisory agents to assist with remote location handling it’s important to confirm, in advance, that the agent has the permissions necessary to access the ramp airside, assist with the customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance, arrange credit and has effective relationships with the airport authority. At some international destinations supervisory agents are not permitted to go airside and will only be able to physically deal with “above the wing” servicing and issues. Even in cases where supervisory agents lack airside access the additional handling, language and coordination support can be invaluable, particularly in very remote locales.
4. Self-handling issues
In cases where operators self-handle at remote locations it’s important to understand all applicable protocols and procedures at destinations, including specific procedures for filing flight plans and paying airport and CIQ charges. Complications in self-paying fees in locations such as India can, potentially, lead to multi-hour delays. It’s also important to consider language barriers as this can cause confusion for both operators and airport staff. For example, at some domestic airports in Argentina, air traffic control (ATC) is not staffed with English speaking controllers, and you’ll need a Spanish speaker with you.
5. Selecting supervisory agents
When operating to more remote locations you’ll want a supervisory agent who speaks the native language, has experience in handling GA operations, and has adequate ramp and safety/security training. Such agents should have 24/7 availability and the ability to arrange credit, with prior arrangement, for all local services such as in-flight catering, aircraft maintenance, and local transport. It’s also important that supervisory agents ensure operators are compliant with all airport regulations, to avoid possible penalties. For example, for international arrivals to China everyone onboard needs to wait for the immigration agent before any door may be opened. If a door is opened without permission there could be issues and potential fines.
6. Arranging supervisory agents
It’s best to give yourself adequate lead time when sourcing supervisory agents and identifying required services. Most of the time, you’ll be sourcing a supervisory agent through your trip support provider or a larger regional ground handler – who will position an agent at your destination in advance of your arrival or arrange to have the agent with you onboard the aircraft.
We recommend a minimum of five days’ notice, depending on the location you’re traveling to when setting up supervisory agent services. Sufficient advance notice allows ground handlers at larger regional destinations to ensure the best available agents are assigned to your flight. While supervisory agent services can be arranged on short notice, there may be higher costs in doing so, in terms of repositioning agents and local hotel/travel/meal charges. With advance notice your ground handler will be able to provide you with accurate estimates for the cost of such services in advance, to avoid post trip surprises later.
When operating to remote airports or locations not frequented by GA, there will be times you’ll want your own supervisory agent onsite to help safeguard your mission. You’ll use them to help ensure ground services are arranged and delivered as planned, as well as facilitate coordination of other services–hotels, catering, ground transportation, etc.–in advance of your arrival. And they’ll also help ensure you are being invoiced correctly by local third-parties.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers costs and considerations when arranging supervisory agents.