The Clark County Department of Aviation released additional parking spots at Las Vegas valley airports at a significantly lower price after reassessing availability and costs when pilots, AOPA, and other aviation organizations pushed back against egregious “special event” fees tied to the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 18.
Clark County owns five airports in and around Las Vegas. Three of these airports—North Las Vegas Airport; Henderson Executive Airport; and Harry Reid International Airport—announced unreasonably high special event fees associated with prior permission required (PPR) programs because of anticipated high traffic during the F1 Grand Prix weekend that concludes on November 18.
Clark County and AOPA have met twice since—as both parties are interested in how to best serve local and transient general aviation pilots—and on November 14, Clark County officials confirmed that the prices at the county-operated FBOs at North Las Vegas and Henderson airports will be adjusted downward.
Previously, special event fees at Henderson and North Las Vegas were posted at $3,000 for all aircraft. After the reassessment, the county found nearly 40 spots that could accommodate smaller Group 1 aircraft and will offer a much lower special event fee for aircraft in that category, at $750. Piston twins like the Cessna 421 or Piper Chieftain are examples of Group 1 aircraft, which the FAA defines as aircraft with a wingspan less than 49 feet and a tail height less than 20 feet.
A pilot flying a Group 1 aircraft who had already paid the $3,000 event fee was offered a refund from the county and permitted to pay the lower rate. Additionally, the county has reached out to more than 20 pilots with Group 1 aircraft who had made inquiries about parking and offered the updated $750 fee. Seventeen spots remain at North Las Vegas and 16 at Henderson.
The FBOs at Harry Reid International Airport are owned and operated by private companies, Signature and Atlantic, that set and impose their own special event fees. Both FBOs confirmed that they are sold out of PPRs for the race weekend. Atlantic reports an 80-aircraft waiting list, and representatives from both FBOs verified their respective special event fees for the F1 race.
Despite federal rules that require public-use airports to ensure all fees collected are fair and reasonable, Atlantic is charging $1,500 for piston aircraft and $3,500 for all other aircraft. These fees are in addition to the normal parking and additional fees that these FBOs impose on pilots. Signature’s prices range between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the type of aircraft. An updated post on Signature’s website announced there would be no special event fees for piston aircraft and helicopters; however, not one piston aircraft currently has a PPR reservation at the FBO, and they remain sold out.
Fair and reasonable options for pilots flying in and around Las Vegas are few and far between during this upcoming high traffic weekend. Clark County’s Perkins Field is closed for runway reconstruction, and Jean Airport is a nontowered field 30 miles away from downtown that has no transportation and no services. The good faith effort from Clark County to lower fees for GA pilots at county-operated North Las Vegas and Henderson airports is a small step in the right direction.
“Well, it’s progress but we still have a ways to go to get to fair and reasonable fees. Clark County should be imposing the same standards to private FBOs that operate on their public-use airport,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We still need guardrails around these fees, especially for the private operators who don’t get fuel volume discounts and can't pass these costs along.”
Over the past few years, AOPA has seen an alarming trend of climbing fees that punish GA pilots. Public-use airports that are granted millions in federal funding are now leaning into leasing and sharing revenues with private FBOs. With Part 135 operators able to pass these fees down to customers, it is the Part 91 operators who are punished—either forced to pay egregious fees or effectively denied access to an airport that should be publicly accessible and in adherence with rules and requirements for federally funded airports. AOPA, with support from 600 aviation organizations, will fight to see guardrails put in place and will continue to insist on fair and reasonable fees for GA pilots who have a right to access public-use airports without being hit with outrageous fees.