AOPA members have spoken up about their experiences paying high prices for fuel and other fixed-base operation services at many locations around the country, and in support of the association’s call for the FAA to review FBO pricing nationwide to ensure that all providers comply with federal grant assurances that require “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” pricing at airports that receive federal funds.
AOPA President Mark Baker has personally experienced pricing issues that many members have since echoed in reports submitted online to AOPA, starting in January. Responses to date suggest that while FBOs in many locations provide excellent service at reasonable prices, members have found a few that may take advantage of being situated as the sole provider in a given area to drive prices beyond what many consider “fair” or “reasonable.”
Pricing concerns expressed to AOPA to date also include reports submitted by FBO managers who share the association’s concern that “outrageous” prices charged at some locations have a detrimental effect on the entire aviation community. AOPA continues to gather information from pilots who are reporting their own experiences.
AOPA and the FAA have discussed the pricing complaints and reports, including those submitted directly to the FAA. AOPA has asked the FAA to apply the rules and procedures already in place to ensure fairness for all, including pilots, aircraft operators, and FBOs. The association also has asked the FAA to consider the value of price transparency, and how transparency could benefit the aviation community when applied to pricing of all FBO services, including fees charged in the absence of any other purchase (a common cause of complaints by AOPA members). Making these prices easily accessible to all, as retail fuel prices already are, also would assist the agency in its mandate to ensure fair and equal access to facilities created with public money. Moreover, the issue of FBOs charging fees to pilots when no services are performed or requested is another issue that was discussed.
AOPA continues to work with the FAA and industry stakeholders, and Baker reiterated that the association seeks solutions that preserve profitability for FBOs without violating the obligations of service providers at public-use airports.