The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has announced that it has withdrawn a Part 13 complaint against Waukegan National Airport in Chicago, Illinois, following improvements made at the airport to increase accessibility.
AOPA originally filed three Part 13 complaints in August 2017 with the FAA over egregious fixed-base operator fees at three airports, one of which was Waukegan.
AOPA’s complaint alleged that Signature Flight Support, the only FBO at Waukegan, was using its monopoly position to force aircraft operators to buy unreasonably priced fuel and pay fees for services that were neither requested nor utilized.
In response, the airport announced in December 2017 that it would offer free tiedowns for transient aircraft and a pedestrian gate to access the ramp so pilots and passengers are not forced to go through the FBO. The FBO also reduced the price of self-service Avgas from almost US$6 a gallon to US$4.81.
AOPA president and CEO Mark Baker said the association has acknowledged these steps, and added, “Grant Farrell from the Waukegan Port District, and Skip Goss, the airport manager, understand the value of general aviation and importance of competition. We thank them for listening to our concerns and taking proactive steps to meet federal grant obligations and improve access.”
The decision was announced on January 30 in a letter from AOPA general counsel Ken Mead to the Illinois Department of Transportation and the FAA, which cited the airport management’s “concerted and transparent actions to improve the accessibility of the airport to transient users by offering alternative ramp parking and facilitating lower fuel prices”.
According to the letter, “The alternative parking area, including wide promotion of its existence, will improve competition at the airport, better ensure the reasonableness of prices and fees for aeronautical services, and protect reasonable airport access”.
“This is just the sort of response we are hoping for,” Baker said. “Our preference is that airport sponsors and FBOs themselves seek ways to give pilots choices when an FBO has a monopoly. We hope other locations can see Waukegan as a model.
“In the meantime, we will continue to press other locations to be more transparent with their fee structures and to provide pilots with choices when it comes to which services they choose to use at an airport.”