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Agovernment study has identified how the
pricing of fuel and services FBOs offer
varies throughout the USA, after private
pilots and aircraft owners raised concerns
about how much fuel and other aviation services cost
The statistical model developed by the USA’s
Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that
aviation fuel prices were higher where demand and
costs were higher. It also found that prices were
higher where demand can support only a single FBO
at an airport.
Since 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has provided more than US$37 billion in grants
to airports to fund the development of their facilities.
In return, these airports must provide users with
equal access to airport services, such as fueling and
parking. In recent years, concerns have been raised
about the transparency and reasonableness of the
prices charged for fuel and airport services at these
airports by industry groups and pilots.
The GAO has examined FBO pricing and the FAA’s
oversight of airport grant assurances. The study looked
at the transparency of pricing, the factors that influence
pricing and the extent to which the FAA ensures
compliance with federal airport grant assurances.
For the study the GAO interviewed stakeholders
from 26 different airports and 16 FBOs as well as
general aviation pilots and industry groups.
The study found that FBO costs to build and
maintain facilities, such as hangars and fueling
infrastructure, as well as operating expenses such as
labor and fuel directly influence their pricing.
It was also found that demand for FBOs’ services
and competition can influence prices. The GAO’s
statistical model confirmed a correlation between
several cost and demand factors and the price of
Although the model found higher prices at airports
where higher costs and demand exists, it also found
that on-airport competition results in lower prices at the
USA’s busiest airports. Prices for aviation fuels were
therefore seen to be lower at such airports, where
there is more than one FBO.
However, not all airports can support more than
one FBO for business reasons and in these locations
pricing was also higher. While the FAA oversees
airport grantees, it does not regulate these prices at
these airports, which are often in remote locations.
Andrew Von Ah, director of the GAO’s Physical
Infrastructure Team, which produced the study, said,
“The FAA does not regulate prices and they have
taken steps to better understand the complaint
information they get at a regional level. We do not see
any basis for making a recommendation to FAA.”
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Complaints made to the FAA about grant
violations between 2013 and 2018
complaints related to FBO pricing
during this period
Number of FBOs operating
at 3,016 airports
in the USA