Amid a troubling decrease in business aviation operations, FBOs are struggling not only to survive but also to continue serving customers using leaner workforces and to fill hangars that once had lengthy waiting lists. Paradoxically, business boomed as fuel prices peaked at the end of last year’s third quarter and dropped off dramatically as fuel prices fell, but the economy worsened. Clearly, the recession, public opinion about business jets and proposed new security regulations have dealt a triple-whammy to the service business infrastructure that lies at the heart of general aviation.
Even talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has commented on how the public backlash against business jets has affected FBOs. “That’s where the corporate jets go, and they pay for jet fuel…and that helps the people selling it. And there are line personnel that have to empty the toilets and service and tow [the airplanes]. It’s all private-sector money. But because it’s a corporate jet, somehow it’s stigmatized and the contributions made to private-sector stimulus in the process of buying, flying and servicing one of these jets is totally missed by people.”