Since our founding in 2014, we’ve appeared in the New York Times, Aviation International News, Professional Pilot Magazine, Airport Business Magazine, Business Airport International, FlyCorporate Magazine, and a few more we can’t remember…
While the majority of business and general aviation traffic may be found among the Top 250 airports near major city centers, there are another 2,000 airports or more also offering FBO services, an outsized number of which are operated by an airport sponsor itself- be it a city, county, or municipality. As these public-sector FBOs become increasingly sophisticated, the line is blurring between airport-run FBOs and their private sector brethren. (Airport Business Magazine, April-May 2021)
While life after the pandemic will certainly bear a resemblance to life before, subtle changes will stay in place as a result of COVID-19 forever, just as they did after September 11th and the global financial crisis. (Airport Business Magazine, Jan-Feb 2021)
According to a JD Power report of 2019, while autonomous taxis may find commercial acceptance as early as 2025, by 2034, it is predicted some 10 percent of consumer vehicles will be self-driving. In a mere 10 to 15 years, a significant number of passenger vehicles will no longer need to park at the airport or FBO but will drive “home” instead – without their owner. How does that affect airports and FBOs? (Airport Business Magazine, May 2020)
In business, the consummation of a relationship between parties is usually, if not always, in the form of a contract. And, while legally binding contracts can be implied simply based on the actions of two parties, in its formal version, a contract takes written form. This notion is almost universally well-understood, regardless of industry. Yet, why is distilling an offer, the performance between parties, and the terms of payment for goods or services into written form so frightfully scary to many? (Airport Business Magazine, April 2020)
Coastal cities in the US are home to more than 450 airports and heliports with average field elevations below 10’ Mean Sea Level (MSL). Some 150 of those airports are below 5’ MSL. While the end of the 35-year lease term you’re about to sign may seem distant, if your coastal airport falls in the latter category, it may be completely erased by the ocean by that time, or will be subject to regular flooding rendering it unusable before the expiration of the lease term. What to do? (Airport Business Magazine, February/March 2020)
What should airports consider when negotiating with a prospective or renewing FBO tenant? And what should FBOs consider when negotiating with their airport? First, each party must be prepared to compromise and respect the knowledge, experience and limitations of the other. A cool head and an encyclopedic knowledge of regulations doesn’t hurt either. (Airport Business Magazine, December 2019/January 2020)
Unless providing factory-authorized maintenance for a given OEM, or playing host to an OEM’s event featuring an aircraft static display, there is simply no formal relationship in the industry between FBOs and OEMs. Against that backdrop, how can FBOs effectively handle hundreds of aircraft types when OEMs have no cause to engage with FBOs? Through tried-and-true third-party publications, coordination with new aircraft owners and the timeless question all FBO employees should be ready to ask, the FBO industry always finds a way. (Airport Business Magazine, October 2019)
An organization with a true Safety Management System (SMS) demonstrates that managing risk and assuring a safe working environment are institutionalized into the corporate culture. This requires that the organization evolve beyond just “going through the motions” of assuring basic regulatory compliance to a more robust system of identifying, tracking, interpreting analyzing, and to use data to make decisions about risk mitigation and safety improvements. (Airport Business Magazine, August/September 2019)
BP’s Deepwater Horizon. United 3411. The Boeing 737MAX. All are examples of situations that escalated -not because of the magnitude of the underlying issue- but because of a ham-handed public relations response. In the aviation business, we have a duty to the travelling public to place safety of life above all else. When the unthinkable happens, we have an equal duty to be ready to provide a reassuring and accurate voice to affected families, employees, customers and the public. Yet, has our society become so litigious that we cannot sincerely apologize for a genuine mistake without causing additional liability for our company? (Airport Business Magazine, June-July 2019)
The proper implementation of an organizational safety system is enough of a challenge. Rather than adopt easy solutions, organizations tend towards procedural complexity where it is not needed. Yet, unnecessary complexity adds obstacles to efficacy, making the very process disincentivize employees from taking an active role in that nascent system. FBO Partners’ Patrick Moylan discusses the value of the advice “Simple is always best.” (Airport Business Magazine, May 2019)
The attraction and retention of customers today is a science, particularly in the online environment. Like it or not, complex algorithms track our every purchase, and potential upsells or other items- even by other retailers- are carefully curated and presented for our consumption. Whatever the cause, the rise of online consumerism has a blind spot, and a big one: When we interact in real-life with other humans as part of a transaction for those good or services, we humans become awfully unpredictable as consumers- because relationships matter in business. (Airport Business Magazine, April 2019)
There’s an inside joke in the construction industry surrounding the word “building.” Unlike most -ing words in the English language which connote an ongoing action — such as running — the word building is unique. As the joke goes, once a building is complete, why isn’t it then called a built? Because, it’s never really done. The same is true of FBO buildings. Changes in technology, customer needs, competition and the regulatory environment means FBOs too, must constantly evolve. For an FBO owner then, what considerations should be made before undertaking a facility upgrade or update? (Airport Business Magazine, Feb-Mar 2019)
While the notion of “if you build it, they will come” made for a great cinematic experience for baseball aficionados of the late 80s- it’s the wrong mindset for justifying a hangar development project. In fact, approaching those first steps with an attitude that a new hangar shouldn’t be built, ensures the right decision is made when the analysis to proceed- not gut instinct- indicates the timing is right. (Airport Business Magazine, January 2019)
There remains no clear, industry-recognized path to the FBO general manager’s seat. Coupled with record low unemployment in the US, a failure to develop front-line employees has turned a brewing generational storm into a monster; one that has impacted FBOs across the country in the form of a shortage of qualified managers. Yet, employee development is easier than you think. The ability to teach exists in every human being, regardless of age or experience. It involves a mere willingness to try — to communicate what we know well to another. (Airport Business Magazine, November 2018)
With a roaring economy, slightly rising-but-still-low interest rates, and continued growth in business aviation, a number of FBOs are in some stage of considering a hangar development project today. Perhaps existing hangars have been full for years, and the time just seems right to build another. Whatever the driver, the planning, design, and construction of a new hangar- or hangars- is a serious financial undertaking for an FBO, and not one to be taken lightly. In this series, we’ll explore just a few of the steps a wise FBO should consider well before they’ve planned the grand opening celebration of their to-be-built hangar. (Airport Business Magazine, August-September 2018)
FBOs are facing a leadership gap of epic proportions, and it’s about to get much worse. Contextualized, the leadership gap in the FBO industry is the lack of qualified applicants for the General Manager (GM) role across the country, as well as those for second tier supporting roles such as assistant general managers, station managers, line managers, and the like. In the next few years it won’t be a lack of interested private equity firms that stymies FBO industry growth. It will be a lack of available leaders to run these newly acquired businesses. (Professional Pilot Magazine, July 2018)
FBO Partners’ President Douglas Wilson spoke to industry leaders at the NATA Aviation Business Conference in June regarding the growing “FBO Leadership Gap,” the growing need for qualified FBO General Manager candidates. As 2020 approaches, an estimated 25% of FBO leadership positions may go unfulfilled- unless the industry takes action. Recruitment, Training and Mentorship may be a solution…but will it be enough?
Tell us your views.
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What if a clumsy individual- or an accident prone one- was applying for a job at your FBO? How would you possibly know that the well-dressed, articulate candidate sitting right in front of you is accident prone? As “clumsy” is not often a skill listed on a resume, the answer is most employers have no idea what inherent safety behaviors a candidate will bring to the workplace. Thanks to the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), that dilemma is about to change. Contact us
Think your FBO offers a high-end travel experience? In FBO Partners’ latest article, President & Senior Partner Douglas Wilson had the opportunity to enjoy a truly unique, high-end travel experience outside the world of FBOs. Brainchild of international security expert and author Gavin de Becker, The Private Suite is an ultra-private, ultra-high end remote terminal offering the most convenient and secure processing experience for travelers arriving into, or departing from, LAX. And, while not an FBO, much can be learned from The Private Suite: Namely, that personalized service and security are not competing values. Contact us, and tell us your views.
The FAA recently released guidance regarding FBO fee structures at Federally-obligated airports. Of note is the FAA acknowledgement that airports themselves impact FBO pricing, through many terms found in FBO leases: Capital investment of the FBO in physical facilities, Federal and local policy requirements, insurance requirements, and increases in rents and other fees paid by the FBO. According to the FAA, “These factors may impact the economic vitality of an FBO. Contact us, and tell us your views.
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Many FBOs provide aircraft refueling services to scheduled air cargo operators, that much isn’t unusual. However, FBOs desirous of truly ground handling unscheduled, ad hoc air cargo have much to consider before jumping in with both feet. While ground handling fees may seem lucrative and the attendant large fuel uplift enticing, the rule of “be careful what you wish for” applies. Contact us, and tell us your views.
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It is difficult to properly underscore the time and investment required in bringing a new certificate to life. And that- time and investment- is the rub. For an FBO embarking on bringing a new 135 certificate to market, even a single-pilot, single-airplane Part 135 certificate, a market study should be conducted to determine a cost benefit analysis, including a projected return on investment. Thousands will be spent, and a dedicated airplane and pilot procured. Contact us, and tell us your views.
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