This Monday, AOPA filed official complaints with the FAA regarding fees charged by FBOs located at Waukegan National Airport (Illinois), Asheville Regional Airport (North Carolina) and Key West International Airport (Florida). All three are on AOPA’s list of “most complained about airports with egregious FBO prices.” Each location has a single FBO—each run by Signature Flight Support—controlling fuel services and transient ramp space on the field. The Part 13 complaints allege that each of the FBOs has “failed to fulfill its responsibility to protect the airport for public use through reasonable and fair pricing.”
So why can’t an FBO charge what they want for their fuel and services? Theoretically, if we pilots don’t want to pay their prices, we are perfectly free to go elsewhere which, some argue, might force the business into more competitive pricing practices. According to AOPA, it comes down to airport funding and access not only to public ramp space but also to the national transportation system. If an airport has received federal grants, FBOs on the field—which benefit from the funding—are legally obligated to charge “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” prices for their services. This is done to keep publicly funded airports available for public use.
AOPAs complaints allege that the current practices of the three FBOs in question mean that transient operators end up owing FBO fees just by landing at the airport, even if they don’t want or use the FBOs facilities and services, which restricts reasonable public access to the airport. The next step is to wait for the FAA to consider the complaints and issue decisions. There is no deadline on responses to Part 13 complaints.
Learn more at AOPA.