Following a mid-August meeting, the Jackson Hole Airport Board voted to postpone a request for proposal (RFP) to establish a second fixed-base operation on the Wyoming field. The decision to delay the RFP was made to allow time for the board to consider purchasing the current sole FBO instead of bringing in a second.
Earlier this year, AOPA wrote a letter to the Jackson Hole Airport Board in support of establishing a second FBO to promote more competition at that location. In the letter, AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead urged the board to consider an application for a second FBO and reminded the board that when it accepted federal funds, it agreed not to grant any “exclusive right” to a single FBO at the airport. In addition, acceptance of those funds committed the board to making the airport available to all types and classes of commercial activity, such as FBOs, on reasonable conditions and without unjust discrimination. Mead also pointed out that airports are obligated to ensure that FBOs are charging “reasonable and not unjustly discriminatory prices.”
Following the calls for a second FBO, the board unanimously voted to take the necessary steps toward adding a second location, but have since decided to explore another option.
The FAA requires the airport to reasonably accommodate a second FBO for the expansion, but Jackson Hole may utilize an exception to that requirement by exercising its right, as a sponsor, to exclusively operate and provide FBOs services at the airport.
The board is expected to make a final decision at the next meeting in September.
Complaints AOPA received from pilots regarding Jackson Hole Aviation, the only current FBO at the airport, include having some of the highest prices, as compared to five other airports within 50 miles. Another pilot reported being charged a $260 fee just for a quick turn with “hardly any service.”
The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported local pilots have long had issues with the current FBO. The paper said, “Private plane owners, particularly those with small aircraft, have complained for years that Jackson Hole Aviation has taken advantage of being the lone shop at the airport and gouged its clients."
Other airport boards taking steps to improve egregious pricing practices include John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. There, the board of supervisors voted to replace Signature Flight Support with a local competitor after complaints over unreasonable pricing and fees became too much to ignore. Signature pushed back by filing a Part 16 complaint with the FAA, claiming the board violated certain grant assurances and unfairly discriminated against the company. The FAA’s response stated that airport sponsors like Orange County “have a right and responsibility to consider pricing in FBO selection.” This decision set an important precedent as the Jackson Hole Airport Board deliberates their decision for a second FBO facility.
For more information on AOPA’s egregious FBO pricing efforts or to submit a report please visit aopa.org/FBOpricing.