AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

80 Replies

AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Daria Knupp on Aug 29, 2017 10:59 am

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With the filing of official complaints to the FAA, AOPA rolled out the next phase of its ongoing effort to tackle egregious fees charged by certain fixed-base operations around the country. The move comes after months of effort identifying the worst offenders and attempting to work with local airport sponsors receptive to ensuring their communities offer pilots reasonable access to their airfields, often described as the local on and off ramps to the National Airspace System. Read more here.

Have you experienced any egregious FBO pricing practices? 
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Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Ronald Levy on May 6, 2019 10:29 pm

Richard Gallaher:
I still say say if there are no free ramps to park on use the taxiway or runway.

Of all the things likely to happen, AOPA support for that idea isn't one of them.  One more time -- try reading the FAA Compliance Manual linked above thoroughly and carefully, and then get an attorney who understands Federal anti-trust and aviation law to explain why your ideas have no basis in law.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Edward Klapka on May 10, 2019 9:32 pm

The FAA should recognize and implement a system similar to public parking and valet parking.  Every airport subject to the Grant Assurances should be required to provide low cost transient parking and ramp access (eg public parking).  Airports are encouraged to recoup their costs to stay out of the red, hence I say low cost instead of free.  Those desiring to use FBO services would be subject to higher fees from the FBO for those services.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Ronald Levy on May 11, 2019 6:11 pm

So who's going to pay for the construction, operation, and maintenance of those "low-cost" parking areas?  The airport?  Where do they get the funds?

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Michael Hounslow on May 18, 2019 11:40 am

Ronald Levy:
So who's going to pay for the construction, operation, and maintenance of those "low-cost" parking areas?  The airport?  Where do they get the funds?

We already pay "funds".  The fuel we buy is taxed by the Feds and the State.  My local airport charges me an annual "use fee" based on GW of the airplane.  My personal 2550 lb aircraft pays $255.00 per year, my boss's airplane costs $1600/ year.  I pay the local FBO $150/month for a tie down, my boss pays $2700/mth for a hangar.  In each statement, is another kicker to the County government (another tax) for the right to park my airplane at a public airport.  When does the government STOP making us pay?  Let's talk about my Cherokee and taxes....I paid $3000 in sales taxes to buy the plane...ergo, $3000 to the state budget...what do they do for me with that money?  Answer: Nothing....right now they are busy using those kinds of funds to house, feed and school illegals entering our country.  I buy $4500 worth of Avgas every year and the Feds run off with $400 of that money and the state runs off with $330of that money leaving the FBO and oil company with the rest.  I pay $255 to the county directly in a user fee and $240 indirectly through my parking space.  This is one Cherokee with one owner.  I haven't flown anywhere yet but up in the sky.   Then comes the "avoid Signature, avoid Sheltair, avoid Millionaire, avoid Atlantic" syndrome.  Touching anyone of these FBO's puts a serious dent in my pocket either with $7.00-$8.00/gallon fuel or the "pay us $65 for nothing" routine.  Just think of all the places I used to go to but cant any more.  Atlantic City...cant afford it.  Hilton Head, cant afford it, BWI, cant afford it.  Albany, NY, cant afford it, St. Pete, FL, cant afford it, Ocala, FL, cant afford it, the list goes on and on of places I cant afford to fly because the FBO's don't want little planes or have a model that only allows big aircraft and big budgets.  And BTW, if I don't go to ACY, that means Atlantic City vendors (Uber, taxi, food, entertainment, beach support and sundries) don't get my paltry spending dollars.  Sure, I don't gamble but if I spent the day tourist or sunning in ACY, there's a good chance I blow $100-200 in town to businesses.  However, when Signature shakes me down for $140 before I even get anywhere, well that little FBO run by the city in Ocean City is just fine...THEY can take my money.  We pilots joke about the $100 hamburger.  If you say ACY today in my airplane it costs $50 at my FBO prices to get there and $50 to get back.. if I go to MIV to the little cafe, I'm out $100 plus lunch.  If I go to ACY, though, it now costs $170 in aviation expenses and the cost of the burger.  The $70 difference goes to the bottom line of a large FBO vendor IF I would pay it which I won't.  My friends would like the thrill of flying to ACY and I might pay a premium but I am not going to take a 70% increase in operating costs just to walk through the gate at ACY.  The only losers in this game are the business folks in Atlantic City who don't get my business due to a "restrictive" trade policy at the airport.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Ronald Levy on May 19, 2019 6:53 am

Do some research on the issues.  The Federal fuel tax money doesn't go for ramps or parking areas. The money you pay your airport doesn't pay for ramps at other airports.  The money you pay your state doesn't pay for airports in other states.  None of that money goes to the FBO's who are paying ground rent to the airport for the spaces where you want to park.  It's just not as simple as you seem to think.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Richard Gallaher on May 19, 2019 12:55 pm

The grants are given all the time to even control birds around the airports...if the airport is not 'private'. It is pretty clear the local people are just too dumb to run an airport or they are more interested in ripping people off that are passing through... kind of like what was done by gas stations along the freeways when they first began to open across the country. Even federal freeways  have 'Rest Stops' now. 
Now that AOPA has filed a formal complaint, it is up to the US government to act, This should include the congress, maybe the BLM could seize all airport land. 
Yes, this could even be considered a matter of national security. The federal government should emanate domain all airports and immediate connecting property. 

Lets do this the Democrat / Socialist way, because the locals are just too out of control.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Ronald Levy on May 20, 2019 6:47 am

Is Richard Gallaher a relative of Jonathan Swift?  But I do appreciate good satire.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Miguel Fernandez on Aug 7, 2019 7:37 pm

You should add to the list KFHB in Fernandina, FL. I landed after hours on 7/27/19 at 9:30pm, the only thing open was the gate. Arrive at the airport for departure next morning at 7:00AM. I was charge $16.05 Handling fee for the facility and $19.26 for overnight parking. I can accept the overnight parking but Handling fee for facility!!! I asked why the facility charge and no response was given. They were barely open and the attendant didn't eve know that my plane was parked at the ramp. I left a not happy comment on the ForeFlight airport info site.

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Max Reason on Aug 12, 2019 12:01 pm

What I read here is appalling.  In general, I side with those who are offended at getting royally ripped off at "public" airports that you've already paid-for via taxes.

My solution is to land next to gasoline stations in extremely rural areas, pull up to the pumps, fill up my wing tanks with premium gasoline (which is the fuel my Rotax 912iS engine loves most), then fly away.  And when it comes to parking somewhere overnight, be similarly creative (make friends in suitable rural locations, stop at motels in the boonies on cross country trips where you can park in the field beside or behind the motel, and so forth.

Does this require more planning than landing at whatever airport your Dynon/Garmin tells you to?  Sure.  But such planning only needs to be done once for each area you visit ... then you have a list of options for that area for future trips.

Yes, this is also much more practical if you have an airplane that can land and takeoff in short distances.  Which was an important factor in my choice of airplane.

Believe it or not, my solution (above) isn't my suggestion, because I know most folks can't land and takeoff in 50, 100 or 200 feet, and some people simply have no interest in rural anything (while I have the exact opposite taste and behavior).  Plus, most pilots aren't gonna switch airplanes to solve the problem either.

My suggestion ... especially for AOPA or groups of AOPA members (or EAA members, etc) in various areas is ... to organize, find the cheapest hunk of appropriate size cheap flat land out of town (but as close to town as possible), buy the land as a partnership, and put in your own airstrip.  Maybe start with dirt or grass surface, then asphalt later.  Try to buy land adjacent to a rural gasoline station so everyone who can consume mogas can just push their plane up to the pump, or walk over with fuel cans or fuel bladders.  And KISS in every way possible ... to keep it cheap and simple.  Maybe have one big hangar to handle all the airplanes of the group (cheaper than many smaller hangars).  Or no hangars.  Or tent hangars ($5000 from China for 11x14 meters).  Or just tie-downs with overhead covers to keep the sun off.  Start cheap, add features as time passes.  Charge lower 100LL and overnight prices to attract victims of the problems mentioned profusely in this topic.

Part of the reason this can work is ... the people involved have every incentive to keep it simple and cheap.  If you establish the partnership as a non-profit, you might even find someone to donate the land to you and write off the donation.  And, of course, don't ever turn over any "authority" to anyone else, because the fundamental nature of human life is ... over time, human predators and parasites take over and destroy everything good.

My back of the envelop analysis says this should work easily ... IF ... a fair number of pilots of small airplanes in any given area can pool resources.  That's the key.  Given what people are saying about the size of ripoffs involved, this should be possible to make work.  If you truly are at the end of your rope (and wallet).

Re: AOPA FILES OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS OVER FBO FEES

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 12, 2019 12:25 pm

Max Reason:
What I read here is appalling.  In general, I side with those who are offended at getting royally ripped off at "public" airports that you've already paid-for via taxes.

This is a common misconception.  Few services at "public" airports other than the runways and navaids and the like are "already paid for via taxes".  FBO's are not publicly funded, and provide their services such as parking, flight planning rooms, rest rooms, etc., at their own expense.  Without charging for access, they can't stay in business and provide these services.

My solution is to land next to gasoline stations in extremely rural areas, pull up to the pumps, fill up my wing tanks with premium gasoline (which is the fuel my Rotax 912iS engine loves most), then fly away. 

In most places, it isn't legal to operate an aircraft on public roads.  You'll also probably find your insurance policy doesn't cover you when operating illegally like that.  And most planes don't use mogas, even superpremium.

And when it comes to parking somewhere overnight, be similarly creative (make friends in suitable rural locations, stop at motels in the boonies on cross country trips where you can park in the field beside or behind the motel, and so forth.

Whose field?  Parking your airplane on someone else's property without permission is a good way to find yourself in expensive legal difficulties.

All things considered, your suggestions are generally impractical and mostly illegal as well as creating potential financial problems.  Be careful what you do.