Transparency continues to be a watchword for AOPA and the general aviation community in 2021, as we maintain our laser focus on bringing more clarity, understanding, and peace of mind to the thousands of pilots—consumers in this case—who use the nation’s GA airports every day, said AOPA President Mark Baker.
The effort for increased airport transparency—under the Know Before You Go umbrella that began two years ago—is focused on two primary fronts: streamlined airport parking terminology and transparency in fees charged by the nation’s FBOs, especially the larger chain operations. The initiative now has the support of over 330 pilot organizations across the country.
“Just like any other consumer, pilots have the right to know their options when they land at a destination,” said Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “It’s challenging, however, when it’s hard to figure out where to park at an airport, and how much you actually need to pay for that parking. Our regional managers are tirelessly working with airport and FBO managers to help educate them on the desire and simplicity of transparency. Quite frankly, we would like the industry to address this issue because pilots are tired of being surprised by unknown fees at some airports. That simply isn’t good customer service.”
And, with the FAA soon to increase the number of GA airports required to publish an airport diagram from nearly 700 to over 3,000, the need for transparency in parking terminology is becoming more vital. AOPA and other aviation organizations continue to engage with airport managers to encourage voluntary adoption of the three GA parking terms on their diagrams (GA Transient Ramp, GA Tenant Ramp, and FBO Ramp where they exist).
Pilots simply want to know their parking options at a destination airport and, so far, only a handful of airports have committed to this change. Such labeling provides GA pilots with the information they need to make informed choices.
“A lot of pilots are flying to many airports across the country, only to find airport diagrams that do not accurately depict all of the parking options available to them,” said Ginter. “We need to see more airports understand the need for clarity and transparency. How can anyone be opposed to being transparent, especially at public-use airports?”
AOPA also continues to push FBOs for more fee transparency. In an April letter to GA industry leaders, AOPA President Mark Baker outlined the status of acceptance of FBO ramp fee transparency and called on the industry to communicate its support for the initiative to FBOs—especially larger chain FBOs, such as Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation—and encourage them to participate.
The National Air Transportation Association, which represents the interests of GA-related businesses and which was an original signatory to the Know Before You Go campaign, recently published a letter that called on its FBO members to be more forthright in their marketing and communications materials for charges and fees.
AOPA previously noted that Signature posts its ramp fees for piston aircraft online, but not for turbines or jets; Atlantic Aviation does not post any of its fees or prices online. Both require turbine and jet pilots to join a loyalty program before revealing any prices, although Atlantic does post a $400 facility fee when accessing its loyalty program. These two specific FBOs represent nearly 200 locations across the country.
AOPA will continue to update members and the GA community on our push for increased airport transparency. If you fly to an airport with a diagram that doesn’t include the three GA parking terms, inquire with the airport manager to consider updating their diagram if appropriate. AOPA staff is ready to help any airport manager with this process with a simple call to 800-USA-AOPA.