UAS International Trip Support, with regional headquarters in several cities around the world, has brought members of its Americas team to LABACE 2014. Leading the team, which is based in Houston, Texas, are Jay Ammar Husary, UAS senior director-operations and sales, and Ryan Frankhouser, regional director, UAS Americas. Also here at LABACE is São Paolo-based Carlos Vieira, UAS business development manager for South America.
“Total trip support to South America is at the forefront of our capabilities and is used frequently by our clients,” Frankhouser said. “Since the beginning of this year, UAS (Booth 2012) has successfully completed more than 600 trips to South America, servicing even the most remote parts of the continent. Requests for new trips are coming in daily.”
In addition to the Americas headquarters, UAS also has headquarters offices in the Middle East (Dubai) and Africa (South Africa), regional offices in Nigeria and Kenya, and business development managers in Europe, India and China.
According to UAS, trip planning to and within South America is complex and operators need to do their homework or partner with a reliable international trip planner to ensure a successful mission.
“As Latin America’s most robust economy, Brazil is still the anchor of our operations in South America. Argentina is also busy,” Frankhouser explained. However, UAS International Trip Support has seen an increase in activity in other South American countries, including Chile, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay. Currently, the busiest airports in South America are Rio de Janeiro Galeão International, São Paulo Guarulhos International and Buenos Aires Ezeiza. Also busy are Caracas and Bogotá.
Asked about the most remote airport in South America for which UAS has provided trip support, Frankhouser replied, “We have successfully serviced a Gulfstream traveling from the U.S. to Ushuaia International Airport in Argentina. Ushuaia is the southernmost city and airport in the world, on Tierra del Fuego near Cape Horn. That’s pretty remote.”
There are environmental challenges when operating to South America, he said, especially to remote locations, such as Ushuaia. South America also has many of the highest international airports in the world, including El Dorado International in Bogotá (elevation 8,361 feet), Mariscal Sucre International Airport (7,910 feet) in Quito, Ecuador, and El Alto International Airport (13,314 feet) in La Paz Bolivia, which is the world’s highest international airport. Many other airports have significant mountainous terrain in close proximity.
Airport requirements often vary by region, country and even within the same city. For example, at San Fernando Airport in Buenos Aires, crews and passengers can expect typical customs and security procedures for international business flights. But when flying into Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport, passengers are not allowed to keep luggage on board while waiting to depart again. All items that are not flight-related items must be removed from the aircraft, scanned by customs, immigration and quarantine officers and stored off the aircraft during the entire stay in Argentina.
Argentina also requires all passengers who are U.S., Canadian or Australian citizens to pay a “reciprocity fee” prior to arriving to any airport of entry, he explained. However, they cannot pay this fee at the airport. Operators who fail to pay this fee before landing can end up with lengthy delays or even deportation.
Some airports in South America have only Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking air traffic controllers. Flight crews need a local agent who can help them set up services or credit facilities, but the majority of agents speak only Spanish. Obviously, it’s a good idea to speak to local authorities in their own languages. So having on-site supervisors and agents as well as staff in the operations center of your flight-planning service, who are trilingual Spanish, Portuguese and English speakers, is essential for dealing with linguistic barriers in South America.
Most South American countries need 24 hours to approve overflight permit applications and two to three days for landing approvals. Venezuela needs three to five days for overflight approvals and requires prepayment of navigation fees.