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Fight for fair and reasonable FBO fees hits turbulence

Airports and FBOs embark on misinformation campaign

While AOPA’s effort to see an amendment included in the 2023 House FAA reauthorization bill may have been thwarted by airport associations, FBOs, and others, AOPA and the pilot community will continue the fight against those who want to continue to impose egregious and unnecessary fees on GA pilots.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

For years, pilots have been contacting AOPA with increasingly concerning stories of landing at public-use airports to grab a sandwich, have a meeting, or just pick up passengers, and being met with what many refer to as egregious fees. One pilot who picked up four passengers in a midsize jet was slapped with a $1,200 bill after just 20 minutes on the ground. Another paid nearly $600 to park for a mere three hours. A flight instructor was charged $80 so his student could use the FBO restroom for 10 minutes.

As the House FAA reauthorization bill (H.R.3935) goes to the floor for a vote this week, Reps. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), two GA pilots, introduced a bipartisan amendment that would have ensured pilots would be able to park their aircraft at public-use airports without being charged unfair, unreasonable, and hidden FBO fees.

AOPA President Mark Baker urged a coalition of nearly 600 pilot organizations and hundreds of thousands of AOPA members to contact their representative in Congress and support the fair and reasonable fee amendment.

“Many airports and smaller FBOs don’t charge fees and if they do, they are often fair and reasonable. Like most pilots, I am willing to pay fees but let’s not allow for monopolistic practices that limit access to public-use airports by requiring pilots to pay a private business that imposes unfair and unreasonable fees. As a matter of principle, it’s just not right,” Baker said.

Despite the support of nearly 600 pilot organizations and the full force of AOPA members, the Obernolte-Cartwright amendment was not put in order for consideration during the House Rules Committee meeting because of a misinformation campaign spread by FBOs, associations representing airports, and others in Washington, D.C., and across the country.

“They just muddied up the issue,” Baker added.

The organizations that worked against fair and reasonable FBO fees erroneously suggested the amendment required airports to provide free parking and that it also required construction of new ramp areas. They also claimed the amendment imposed an unfunded mandate on airports, that it would be impossible to administer, and that the amount of fees being charged reflected the cost of doing business. These inaccurate and gross mischaracterizations of the amendment harmed the sincere intentions of the pilot organizations to fairly and responsibly address this issue for their members.

AOPA will continue to support the FBO and airport communities and remains determined to ensure GA pilots have access to and are being charged reasonable fees at federally funded, public-use airports.

Lillian Geil
Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, Capitol Hill, Airport Advocacy

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