marchapril2021 - 29

AUTHOR Douglas Wilson


Public Sector FBOs

IN THE years following Charles Lindbergh's solo
crossing of the Atlantic in 1927, he embarked on
a promotional campaign across the United States,
generating public interest and enthusiasm for a
then-nascent aviation industry. One of the lesserknown aspects of his promotional campaign was
trolling public officials he would inevitably meet
upon landing at the various airports he visited
across the country, by asking them incredulously
" So, this is your airport? "
The impl icat ion was clear:
Lindbergh was using his star power to
shame public officials, good-naturedly,
to invest in their airport. At the time,
many airports were not much more than
a farmer's field requisitioned to serve as
the local airport and may have featured
a windsock, or perhaps a hangar.
Today, there are literally thousands
of airports dotting the US landscape.

The majority of them trace their
construction to World War II, only to
be transferred to civilian hands after the
war. While a few hundred or so became
the large commercial service airports
we know today, hundreds more became
reliever airports and smaller, general
aviation airports. Common to many
of them was the need to provide the
flying public aviation services, including

fuel and " line services, " an increasingly
aging phrase for the host of ancillary
ground support services FBOs provide.
And here is where FBO history diverges.
While the majority of business and
general aviation traffic may be found
among the 250 or so airports nearby
major business centers, there are another
2,000 airports or more offering FBO
services - def ined in this case as
minimally providing Jet A refueling.
Incredibly, 88 percent of these airports
have only one FBO, based on a 2017
study of a publically available f light
planning database. Why?
An outsized number of FBOs are
operated by an airport sponsor itself,
be it a city, county, or municipality -
because the private sector either tried
and failed - or expressed no interest in
the first place. Often, vestiges of a local
aviation family's former FBO business
are all too common at many of these
airports - a faded logo on an airport
sign, or a vintage fuel truck parked
in the grass. Either way, the result
was the same: Essential FBO services
are provided by the airport. What
isn't the same is the relative success of
these airport run FBOs, which varies
considerably. While there is no one trick
to ensure success of an airport run FBO,
common themes emerge when one digs

Gateway Aviation Services has a mentality
of competing with the open market
despite being owned by the airport.

Douglas Wilson is the president and
founder of FBO Partners, LLC, an aviation
consultancy providing business management advisory services to Fixed Base Operations (FBOs.). Wilson can be reached





Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of marchapril2021

The $7 Million Man
Industry Update
A New Normal in Airport Parking and Transportation
The Rise of Robots
Boarding Bridges the Holistic Way
A Brave New World
The Trouble with Tribal Knowledge
Doing it Right: Public Sector FBOs
Reconstructing One of New England's Longest Commericial Service Runways
Designing a Modern Lighthouse
Sensor Technology's One-Two Punch: Improving Winter Maintenance Operations and Meeting ICAO GRF Regulations
Caution: Closure Ahead
marchapril2021 - 1
marchapril2021 - 2
marchapril2021 - 3
marchapril2021 - 4
marchapril2021 - The $7 Million Man
marchapril2021 - Industry Update
marchapril2021 - 7
marchapril2021 - 8
marchapril2021 - 9
marchapril2021 - 10
marchapril2021 - 11
marchapril2021 - A New Normal in Airport Parking and Transportation
marchapril2021 - 13
marchapril2021 - The Rise of Robots
marchapril2021 - 15
marchapril2021 - 16
marchapril2021 - 17
marchapril2021 - Boarding Bridges the Holistic Way
marchapril2021 - 19
marchapril2021 - 20
marchapril2021 - 21
marchapril2021 - A Brave New World
marchapril2021 - 23
marchapril2021 - 24
marchapril2021 - 25
marchapril2021 - The Trouble with Tribal Knowledge
marchapril2021 - 27
marchapril2021 - 28
marchapril2021 - Doing it Right: Public Sector FBOs
marchapril2021 - 30
marchapril2021 - 31
marchapril2021 - Reconstructing One of New England's Longest Commericial Service Runways
marchapril2021 - 33
marchapril2021 - 34
marchapril2021 - 35
marchapril2021 - Designing a Modern Lighthouse
marchapril2021 - 37
marchapril2021 - Sensor Technology's One-Two Punch: Improving Winter Maintenance Operations and Meeting ICAO GRF Regulations
marchapril2021 - 39
marchapril2021 - Caution: Closure Ahead
marchapril2021 - 41
marchapril2021 - 42
marchapril2021 - 43
marchapril2021 - 44