August 01, 2012
By David Eslerdavid.firstname.lastname@example.org
Argentina's capital has come to epitomize the huge South American nation's rich, turbulent and diverse history.
Buenos Aires' evolution from its founding in 1536 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza and the Catholic Church has not been an easy one, but today this lusty multicultural megacity of some 13 million people endures and thrives as the country's political, financial and cultural nucleus. Some regard it as a little slice of Europe in the Southern Hemisphere (“The Paris of the Pampas”), a legacy of the Spanish, Italian and German immigrants who flocked there over the centuries and left their imprimatur on Buenos Aires' art, architecture, music, theater, literature and cuisine — all of which has fused with the country's indigenous native American culture to produce a passionate amalgam best appreciated in Argentina's signature dance, the tango. For if anything characterizes the Argentine temperament, it's passion.
Well, business, too, as Buenos Aires' other pursuit is high finance, the activity most likely to attract business aviation operators to make that long flight to 34o south. The economic power of Buenos Aires can be seen in its 2011 gross geographic product (GGP) of $84.7 billion (U.S.), which amounted to a quarter of the wealth generated by Argentina as a whole. Among the world's cities, Buenos Aires' economy ranks 13th, and its port on the Rio de la Plata estuary is one of the busiest in South America, serving as a distribution center for the southeastern corner of the continent through the complex river system that empties into the estuary.
Like the mythical “Field of Dreams,” if business is there, they will come — “they” in this case being foreign corporations from all over the world eager to do business in Buenos Aires. As the accompanying “City at a Glance” pages reflect, operators versed in international procedures should have no trouble navigating Argentine airspace.
Once in the Buenos Aires terminal management area, however, there are “situational” issues of which operators should be aware. While the city hosts five airports and joint-use military fields with runways suitable for business jets, three civilian facilities tend to be most popular (and practical, as we'll see) for general aviation aircraft. These are Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini International (SAEZ), Aeroparque Metropolitano Jorge Newbery (SABE) and San Fernando (SADF).
Now, to the aforementioned “situations.” First, according to Pablo Penalva, a Global Express captain for J.W. Childs Associates, member of the NBAA International Operations Committee and an Argentine by birth, the airport authorities at Pistarini International have become “obsessed” with general aviation regarding transportation of illegal drugs, having discovered narcotics on board a transient Bombardier Challenger 600, and are practically taking visiting aircraft apart with time-consuming and intrusive drug screening inspections. (Reportedly, some of these incidents have involved holding passengers outside the aircraft while their luggage was opened and inspected on the ramp.)
Consequently, Penalva recommends not using SAEZ in favor of Jorge Newbery, Buenos Aires' original airport (named after a pioneering Argentine aviator), which currently handles domestic airline traffic and international flights within South America and tends to be more welcoming of business aviation (the two airport administrations apparently are not talking to each other). While SABE is technically a port of entry (POE) only for flights arriving from or departing to locations on the continent, two options are available to operators: either fly first to another South American country — Penalva recommends neighboring Uruguay — or apply to the Argentine Civil Aviation Authority for an international landing permit.