Flying to Latin America? What to Know…

There’s plenty to think about when flying to Latin America, and the services of a good Flight Planning company is necessary. AvBuyer spoke with ABS Jets’ Michal Pazourek to learn more about best practices for travelling there…

Matt Harris  |  08th August 2018
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    Matt Harris
    Matt Harris

    Matt Harris is Commissioning Editor for AvBuyer. He is an experienced General and Business Aviation...

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    Bombardier Business Jet

    There’s plenty to think about when planning business flights into Latin America, and the services of a good Flight Planning company is necessary. AvBuyer spoke with ABS Jets’ Michal Pazourek to learn more about best practices for travelling there…
    As Director of Ground Operations for ABS Jets, Michal Pazourek has amassed a wealth of experience planning flights into Latin America for clients, and even spent time living in the region. With offices based in Czech Republic and Slovakia, ABS Jets provides flight planning services to operators around the world and has supported more than 300 different types of aircraft on their missions.
    The company emphasizes the need for intimate understanding of its client’s needs, helping to optimize communications throughout the planning and operational phase of the trip, ensuring a successful outcome.
    With that in mind, AvBuyer caught up with Pazourek to discuss the intricacies of flying in the Latin American region…
    AvBuyer: What are some of the common misconceptions you hear when dealing with operators wanting to fly to Latin America?
    Pazourek: Firstly, it is important to distinguish that we deal with two different traffic patterns when serving the Latin American market. One is working with local operators, supporting their international operations out of the region. The other is bringing foreign operators from different regions into Latin America.
    From the second group specifically, we often find we need to deal with prejudices those operators have towards the infrastructure of Latin America, and security concerns.
    Speaking with several years’ experience of the region, it’s fair to say that the levels of infrastructure and security are both actually very good. There are, of course, more challenging airports (such as the more remote or domestic airports), but generally speaking Latin America is very accessible.
    AvBuyer: So what are some of the more common problems you find operators experience when flying to the region?
    Pazourek: A typical problem we encounter is a lack of time between when the flight is announced and when it’s operated. Different permit rules apply for each of the Latin American countries and late notice commercial operations can cause a lot of headaches.
    AvBuyer: How are these overcome?
    Pazourek: We make use of our previously-obtained ‘tips and tricks’ that help speed up the process for operators. When flying to non-standard places it’s always worth an operator working with a Flight Support operation that has a focus on keeping previous feedback for future operations.
    In addition, when communicating with local authorities and providers, at least some basic Spanish or Portuguese can be practical. Even though email communication is at a good level, much of the arrangements are still conducted over the phone.
    Michal Pazourek - ABS Jets' Director of Ground Operations
    AvBuyer: Which are currently the more Business Aviation-friendly parts of Latin America, and which should operators seek to avoid if possible?
    Pazourek: When we consider Brazil is not only the largest country in the region but also home to the largest Business Aviation fleet in Latin America, it naturally follows that the infrastructure will be at a very good level there. This is especially true for the larger cities.
    The same level can be expected in Mexico with an important part of traffic coming from the United States. In both Brazil and Mexico, in addition to standard airports, dedicated Business Aviation airports such as Toluca (near Mexico City) offer a wide choice of high-level FBO facilities.
    Very occasionally we come across problems that cause a threat to the feasibility of an operation in other countries. One of the more challenging parts of Latin America today is Venezuela. Some of our clients prefer not to over-fly this country.
    Operators must be mindful of their insurance companies, too, when considering visiting certain parts of Latin America. Some insurance policies may not cover operations to certain countries under a standard agreement, requiring additional coverage to do so. Since this is very individualized, it is worth checking.
    AvBuyer: If an operator needed to urgently travel to (or over) one of those more difficult areas, what can they do to make the journey as easy and safe as possible?
    Pazourek: I would suggest collecting as much information as possible about the intended schedule, the possible changes, and any uncertainties – and communicate closely with your Flight Support service.
    This will save a lot of misunderstanding and uncertainty as the trip is planned and executed. The more informed the local authorities and service providers are of the trip plans, the more flexibility will be afforded to the operator.
    Creating back-up options is another good idea to avoid difficulty when something doesn’t go as planned.
    AvBuyer: Finally, to summarize flying to Latin America, what are the three most important factors an operator needs at the forefront of their mind when planning a business trip there?
    Pazourek: All three have been mentioned already. To highlight them, it would be:
    • Remember the variability between the countries of Latin America; 
    • Familiarize yourself with your insurance requirements before flying there; and
    • Allow enough lead-time to adequately set everything up for a smooth, trouble-free visit.
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