The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest pilot organization, along with support from 600 active pilot groups across the country, is encouraging the United States Senate to support an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Tedd Budd (R-N.C.) that would ensure pilots have access to public-use airports with fair, reasonable, and transparent fees. AOPA launched a call-to-action to its 300,000 members urging them to contact their respective U.S. Senators.
The Budd amendment is intended to address a growing problem with large chain Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) that are imposing egregious parking and other fees on private pilots. FBOs are located at airports and provide fuel and other services to aircraft operators.
With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, FBOs and even government-owned airports in Las Vegas are imposing what is referred to as a “Special Event Fee.” These fees are in addition to already imposed parking fees and can range from $3,000 to $15,000 per aircraft.
Airport and FBO interests in Washington have lobbied heavily against the Budd amendment.
Thousands of pilots have contacted AOPA and described being charged hundreds of dollars for an hour of parking, or even more to simply drop off and pick up a passenger. A flight instructor was charged $80 to park for 10 minutes so his student could use the restroom. Pilots are outraged that their access to these airports is being limited and the Super Bowl fees have just highlighted the problem.
“Today, the FAA is required to ensure airport fees are fair and reasonable and clearly that is not happening at many airports," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "We support FBOs and airports, but we need some guardrails around these fees or at a minimum have the FAA enforce current rules and regulations or change current rules and regulations.”
The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to take up a comprehensive aviation bill, commonly referred to as the FAA reauthorization, on Thursday.