Categories: Special ReportAir Travel

Well Grounded

Business aviation is looking for more from airport services – and today’s FBOs are delivering
​​​​Once upon a time, not terribly long ago, general aviation terminals were, at best, functional and friendly. The coffee pot behind the counter was always on and the Naugahyde furniture squeakily comfortable. General aviation airports are home to fixed base operators, those providers of essential services like fuel, aircraft parking and maintenance catering to business and private aircraft. They were ready to fuel you up, fix a few “squawks” (problems) and get you on your way again.

Fast forward to the present and things are decidedly different. Today’s new crop of business jet terminals are ‘brass and glass’ enclaves, ever more dramatic oases in the fast-paced, high-flying private jet world that for an increasing number of corporations is a significant feature of business travel today.

With increasing frequency businesses need to put their people in places off the route maps of commercial airlines. “The US has about 5,000 public use airports,” says Dan Hubbard, senior vice president of communications for the National Business Aviation Association. “Of those, about ten percent – or 500 – have some service by the airlines. General aviation can use nearly all 5,000 of those. Business aviation is a part of that.”

Tim Obitts refines the numbers further. The executive vice president of the National Air Transportation Association, an industry trade group that represents a variety of general aviation interests including fixed base operators, says 3,537 of those public use airports sport paved runways that are 3,000 feet or longer. Some 3,384 FBOs serve these general and business aviation fields.

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