Five centuries of history; great architecture, art and museums; a diversified and growing economy with a thriving aviation manufacturing industry; and the largest concentration of urban helicopters on the planet — this megacity has it all.
Parking at a Premium
The two most popular São Paulo area airports accessed by business aviation are Guarulhos International (SBGR), the designated port of entry for the city, and Congonhas (SBSP), its principal domestic airdrome. More convenient to São Paulo's downtown and amenable to general aviation, Congonhas is not a POE. Thus, arriving business aircraft must first land at Guarulhos to clear customs. Both fields require prearranged arrival slots, SBGR allowing a maximum of 45 ops per hour and SBSP 30 ops per hour. Handlers recommend reserving slots for arrivals and departures as far in advance as possible to secure their desired times.
A few years ago, Guarulhos International was limiting parking to 2 hr. — just long enough to clear, refuel if necessary and reposition to another airport. However, according to Adonis Bastos, customer service agent at Universal Weather & Aviation, “Parking at SBGR can be granted for the duration of stay, depending on availability.” Given that the active word here is “availability,” it is incumbent on the operator desiring to remain at Guarulhos to obtain confirmation for extended parking as early as possible. If parking isn't available, then the drop-and-reposition option will be necessary. In addition to Congonhas, two outlying fields — Campinas (SBKP) and Jundiai (SBJD) — are also good places to tie down for layovers.
While there are FBOs at Congonhas, none — at least in the traditional sense — exist at Guarulhos. Here's how Zamini at Aero Flight Solutions describes the SBGR arrangement: “There is a general aviation ramp at SBGR that's very spacious, plus a small building there with rest rooms and shelter for crews. When the aircraft lands, the handler meets it with a van and drives the passengers and crew to the terminal for customs clearance; from there, they can then go street-side to meet ground transportation.
“One crew we handled for a flight into SBGR told us that within a couple minutes of arrival, their aircraft was surrounded by service providers: lav, water, fuel and transportation,” Zamini continued. “Another crew whom we recently handled said they were really impressed with the services there: The providers were courteous and helpful and always asked one of the pilots before performing a service.
“Of course, we had arranged all that with the local handler, so they knew we were coming. If the handling job is done properly, the services on the other side should be done well, too. We provided a lot of information for that flight ahead of time to the handler, Lider Aviation, that we use there. There are others there as well.”
Fuel at SBGR is provided by the Brazilian refiner Petrobras and, like slots and parking, should be scheduled through handlers and contract fuelers as far in advance as possible — Zamini recommends 48 to 72 hr. prior to scheduled departure, as the airport can get congested. For one of the crews mentioned earlier, Zamini said, “the airport authorities knew it was a Global Express that would be arriving and would need a lot of fuel, and so they sent two trucks — all because we ordered early. It's a good idea to avoid peak periods anyway.” Pricing, at least this summer, is pretty competitive — less than $4/gallon.
Departing, crews are accompanied to a designated place in the passenger terminal by the handler, who also takes care of luggage, security clearance and expedited CIQ clearance. “Then the handler accompanies the crew and passengers to vans on the ramp that transport them to the airplane,” Zamini said. “If the luggage is extensive, it will be transported separately — be aware that you will not be able to see it in that case.”
Security is “everywhere” at SBGR, Zamini claimed, “lots of guard posts with secured gates. Crews have felt safe and that they did not need additional guards for the aircraft.”