Tension is growing among Southern California pilots over the way Los Angeles County is running its five general aviation airports. The airports are operated under a long-term management contract by American Airports Corporation (AAC). Recently, pilot and attorney Tulane Peterson filed a complaint with the FAA, charging violations of exclusive rights by the county and AAC because all aviation fuel must be purchased from the company. "The FAA prohibits exclusive sales of fuel by private companies to prevent discriminatory practices that can hurt pilots," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "While the county can exert an exclusive on dispensing fuel, they cannot transfer that right to a private company." For several years, members have contacted AOPA with concerns over how the county airport system was being operated under AAC. Complaints ranged from non-aviation use of airport property (movie filming rentals) to reductions in services on the airports and deferring maintenance of airport infrastructure. AOPA provided guidance to Peterson in preparation of the complaint. Dunn will be meeting with the regional FAA office next week in California and will encourage the agency to conduct a full investigation including an audit of airport revenues.
March 3, 2006