Long gone are the days when 100LL was a buck a gallon pretty much everywhere you went, give or take a few cents. Not only are we paying a lot more in general for 100LL, but there are FBOs scattered around the country that are charging double the average price for the fuel.
According to AirNav’s survey of 3,689 FBOs across the country, nationwide prices for 100LL averaged $4.71 between December 31, 2016 and February 6, 2017. Prices have been slightly lower in recent years and they’ve been higher, too. So why are pilots – and organizations like AOPA – voicing concerns about the cost of fuel?
It’s because the average price hides some shocking discrepancies in fuel costs. The lowest price at which 100LL is available nationwide is $3.05. The highest price is $9.58. That’s a difference of $6.53 for the same gallon of fuel. It’s not a regional phenomenon either. The separation between the lowest available 100LL price and the highest were evident across regions. There was a $4.38 difference between high and low in Alaska and a $6.06 delta in the Southern U.S.
The FBOs that are charging the highest prices raise eyebrows. According to figures on AirNav, an online airport database site, in early February of 2017 Signature Flight Support at Seattle’s Boeing Field (KBFI) was selling 100LL for $7.59/gal. At the other end of the runway, the same gallon of fuel from Kenmore Aero Services cost just $4.80.
While it isn’t singling out any particular FBOs, at least not yet, AOPA is gathering information on these occurrences. AOPA reports that “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.’” AOPA is in discussion with the FAA about these findings and is focusing particularly on the need for price transparency for all FBO services.
The good news is that there are already rules in place to require “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” fuel pricing for any FBO located at an airport that has received federal funding. For the record, that covers the majority of public-use airports. AOPA hopes to use its new data to push the FAA to enforce those requirements. We’ll keep you apprised of further developments.
Learn more at AOPA.