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Heber City votes to give pilots more avgas optionsHeber City votes to give pilots more avgas options

The Heber City Council voted this month to approve revised minimum standards for Utah’s Heber City Municipal Airport. OK3 Air, the facility's only fixed-base operator, sells fuel to airport users. The changes allow an additional FBO to establish a self-serve avgas fueling station to facilitate competition in response to numerous complaints that cited unreasonably high prices.

OK3 Air at Heber City Municipal Airport in Heber City, Utah, is one of the most complained about fixed-base operators for high fuel prices. Image courtesy of Warren Morningstar.

For almost a year, AOPA has asked members and pilots for reports of egregious FBO prices and fees, and Heber City has been among those receiving the most complaints. AOPA began working with the city and has since sent two letters that detail how pricing practices by the FBO affect access to the airport. To address these concerns, AOPA recommended steps the city council could take to increase competition over critical aeronautical services at the airport, including adopting the new minimum standards.

The FBO filed a lawsuit in federal court against Heber City, as well as current and former airport managers, in response to the city’s move. OK3 Air’s complaint claims that the FBO must consent to any changes to the airport’s minimum standards. OK3 Air stated its objection to the changes prior to the city’s action.

The FBO also alleged, among other things, that the city and certain airport representatives retaliated against OK3 Air for exercising its First Amendment rights.

AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead applauded the city for standing up for the airport and pilots.

“Like many other communities, including Orange County and Cedar Rapids, Heber City is working proactively as the airport sponsor to reclaim control, fulfill its grant obligations, and ensure that the airport is accessible and affordable to all segments of general aviation," Mead said.

Numerous airports are beginning to take matters into their own hands. California’s Orange County Board of Supervisors replaced Signature Flight Support at John Wayne Airport over high prices. In Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission recently opened an avgas self-service fuel pump at Eastern Iowa Airport and is taking steps to establish alternative ramp space for transient pilots.

AOPA has also worked with the Santa Barbara Airport Commission to provide recommendations on a request for proposal (RFP) for two FBO leaseholds at the airport. The FBO RFP recommendations will help “advance the goal of protecting reasonable public access to the airport and ensuring the FBO’s pricing and pricing practices are reasonable for all airport users,” Mead noted.

In August, AOPA along with affected pilots filed three Part 13 complaints over egregious fees and pricing practices that have resulted in limited access at Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, Key West International Airport in Florida, and Waukegan National Airport in Illinois.

AOPA encourages pilots to continue to submit reports about egregious FBO prices.

AOPA Communications staff

Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy

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