A diverse coalition of 16 general aviation groups issued a joint statement calling on the FAA to take action against “egregious, hidden fees and denial of affordable access to airport ramps.”
The groups said on July 24 that they want profitable and healthy fixed-base operators, but there must be a balance that gives pilots reasonable access to publicly funded airports. Among the ways to provide that balance is for the FAA to chart transient ramp areas on airport diagrams, giving pilots an option to park in areas not controlled by the FBO; facilitate FBO competition where practicable; ensure federally funded airports and FBOs on those fields only impose reasonable fees that are posted online; and stop FBOs from forcing pilots to pay for services that are neither requested nor needed.
AOPA President Mark Baker said the coalition will continue to grow and work together to pressure the FAA to take action at problem locations.
"Grant assurances exist for a reason, and while the majority of the FBO industry is doing a great job, there are a number of exceptions at key locations that the FAA has been ignoring. The organizations that have joined us in taking a stand deserve a lot of credit for their leadership, and we look forward to working with them and other groups to make sure the FAA gets the message," said Baker.
Airports that receive federal tax dollars from the Airport Improvement Program are bound by grant assurances, which dictate that airports and FBO fees must be reasonable and non-discriminatory.
AOPA has investigated the effect of FBO fees on airport access for a year and a half, and found that aircraft operations have declined faster at locations where the most complaints have been lodged, compared to national averages. AOPA has also filed three Part 13 complaints with the FAA, released an Airport Access Watch List, and worked with a number of self-help airports taking steps to improve access.
In addition to AOPA, the following organizations have co-signed the joint statement: American Bonanza Society, Antique Airplane Association, Cardinal Flyers Online, FNL Pilots Association, Glasair Aircraft Owners Association, Kansas Pilots Association, Lancair Owners and Builders Organization, Maine Aeronautics Association, Malibu/Mirage Owners and Pilots Association, Minnesota Pilots Association, Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association, Montana Pilots' Association, North American Trainer Association, Utah General Aviation Association, and Washington Pilots Association.
Women in Aviation International, which counts Signature Flight Support as a contributor, had signed the statement but withdrew support.
On July 23, the first day of EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, hundreds of pilots signed a large petition calling on the FAA to pay more attention to this important issue that affects pilots of all types. Those attending the show can hear more during a panel discussion on FBO fees and airport access at the AOPA campus on Wednesday, July 25, at 2 p.m.