For the uninitiated, FBO stands for Fixed Base Operator – a term that's extremely relevant in both the general and commercial aviation sectors. The aviation industry is propelled by a number of companies and service providers, many of which are focused on helping different parties with vested interests. FBO basically cater to the needs of general aviation, and depending on their profile, they may work with commercial carriers and other individual companies that require on-airport services. In this post, we will talk about FBOs and how their services are important and pertinent for the sector.
The need for FBO
It is very hard to generalize the scope of work done by Fixed Base Operators, primary because their roles at different airports can vary tremendously. They are, however, extremely important to the aviation customers they serve. As mentioned, an FBO may choose to work with a regular commercial airline, or they may be involved in airport maintenance as approved by the airport sponsor along with the overseeing regulatory authority. FBOs are important because they provide a critical service, the supply of aviation fuels, at the airports they serve. Their services help in maintaining standards and services at an airport, and they can serve commercial carriers as well as the general aviation public. Many FBOs are described as full service, meaning they provide additional services such as Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and Aircraft Charter and Management (ACM) in addition to the core FBO services of aircraft handling, fueling and hangaring. It greatly depends on the nature of the airport and local demand for services.
Things to expect
FBOs serve in different roles. Almost all FBOs provide the core line services of aircraft handling, fueling and hangaring. Most also provide facilities with amenities for the flying public and flight crews, including general aviation terminals with customer service desks and seating areas, flight planning and pilot lounges and rest areas, and other amenities. When it comes to commercial services, FBOs at many regional airports will provide commercial handling and fueling where there is not enough commercial service to rise to the level of a stand-alone third party provider. Although somewhat less frequent, FBO personnel can also provide some above wing services such as passenger ticketing, check in and gate agent services.
Working with a FBO
If you are an airport sponsor or someone who needs assistance with airport businesses, you should be careful about how you choose the best FBO management service. Expertise and experience matters the most in this sector, given that the cost of operations is getting higher as demand for higher service levels and better facilities continues to increase. You need a team that knows your business goals and can offer dedicated assistance with complex aviation logistics. As a prospective client, you should carefully diligence their experience and capabilities, and you should always be able to contact their references. FBOs are great at overcoming challenges, but working with the right service provider who understands your needs and meets your expectations is critical.
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