A hot topic of debate in recent months has been the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s issuing of formal guidance on FBO pricing for pilots, FBOs themselves, and airport sponsors.
Entitled ‘Q&As – FBO industry consolidation and pricing practices’, the report noted that the FAA has received a number of complaints about FBO services at federally obligated airports, with concerns including the rising costs of FBO services such as fueling costs, ramp fees, parking fees, and handling fees.
In the report, seven common questions acted as a basis for discussion between airport sponsors, the FBO, and aeronautical users on the issue of reasonable access at federally obligated public-use airports.
One of the questions explored was ‘What can an airport sponsor do about high pricing?’. In its response, the FAA recommended, among other things, establishing different classes of FBOs with varying levels of service, organizing self-service fueling, retaining exclusive control over ramp areas, and publicly disclosing rate and charges for airport access and service.
Other issues and variables relevant in cases involving airports and FBOs were recognition of the FBO industry as a for-profit service industry, that reasonable rates and charges arise out of a balance between competing interests, including federal obligations, the airport’s financial interest, profitable FBO operations, and that airport sponsors have discretion over how best to manage their airports for the benefit of all users.
Commenting on the report, AOPA president and CEO Mark Baker said, “We appreciate the FAA making an effort to clarify the responsibilities and available options in preserving airport access, improving fee transparency, and ensuring public-use airports comply with grant obligations.
“This isn’t about any new regulations or price controls, and we look forward to furthering our work with the industry to ensure that FBOs are profitable and airport sponsors are able to meet their grant obligations.”