Pilots refueling at Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have a cheaper option for avgas: A new self-service fueling option for 100LL is more than $2 per gallon cheaper than buying fuel through the airport's single fixed-base operator. The move is the latest positive development in AOPA's efforts to ensure airports are providing reasonable access. The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission is also taking critical steps to provide ramp space for transient operators to park their aircraft as an alternative to the FBO.
Following these recent moves, AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker commended the airport commission in a letter, explaining, “These are imperative steps for airport operators to take in their role as an oversight body responsible for ensuring that prices for critical aeronautical services are reasonable, fair, and not discriminatory.” Baker emphasized that “more than 37,000 operations at Eastern Iowa Airport rely on access, and unreasonable prices and fees deter pilots and operators from airports.”
Baker also recommended the airport consider offering a Jet A self-service fueling option for pilots to increase competition.
After an almost yearlong campaign to collect information from members and pilots regarding egregious FBO pricing and fees, AOPA has started working with leadership at certain airports across the country to bring about more transparency and improve access for local and transient pilots.
In addition to the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission, AOPA also sent a letter on Oct. 5 to the Santa Barbara Airport Commission, applauding recent efforts to develop and issue two requests for proposal that will ensure transparency and reasonable FBO prices at the airport.
In August, AOPA filed three FAA Part 13 complaints against Illinois's Waukegan National Airport, North Carolina's Asheville Regional Airport, and Florida's Key West International Airport over unreasonable FBO pricing and fees. Each airport included in the complaints has a single, monopoly FBO with significant power over access to the airport. In response to the complaints, the FAA is seeking information from each of the airport sponsors.
In the letter to the Santa Barbara Airport Commission, AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead stated, “AOPA has seen a continued rise of certain FBOs occupying significant power and control over transient operator access to public-use airports and, by extension, the surrounding communities.” Mead also highlighted a recent decision from the FAA, noting the airport’s “right and responsibility” to consider pricing during the process of selecting an FBO.
Included in the letter, AOPA prepared recommendations for the commission’s upcoming request for proposal, which will ensure that Santa Barbara Airport’s FBOs are charging reasonable and transparent pricing for any aeronautical services rendered.
“Many airports are finally taking the necessary steps to improve current conditions for general aviation, including promoting competition, improving alternative access, and requiring more transparency,” said Mead. “We look forward to working with the leaders of airport governing bodies to ensure these improvements are effectively implemented.”
AOPA continues to work with local airport authorities and community leaders to protect access and improve transparency for pilots everywhere.