ExxonMobil Exits U.S. GA Fuel Business

 - August 31, 2011, 11:15 AM

Continuing the recent trend of major oil companies scaling back their general aviation commitments, ExxonMobil announced it has decided to cease providing general aviation fuels in the U.S. The fuel conglomerate stated the move “pertains only to its U.S. general aviation business and does not impact the commercial business or military business in the U.S., nor does it signal any significant change in any of our other global markets.”

As a result of the withdrawal, ExxonMobil will dissolve its Avitat FBO network and end its relationship with World Fuel Services (WFS) subsidiary Western Petroleum, ExxonMobil’s exclusive domestic general aviation distributor, which serves approximately 125 FBOs in the U.S.

“The recent Exxon announcement appears to follow a trend by major oil companies to refocus on upstream production,” said Marty Hiller, WFS executive vice president for business aviation. “During the past year, World Fuel Services invested in premier aviation fuel distributors with the acquisitions of Ascent, Hiller and Western Petroleum. As a result of these investments, World Fuel is uniquely positioned to support impacted FBOs as a strong financial partner, capable of delivering turnkey solutions and reliable supply.”

The ExxonMobil withdrawal and the end of the Avitat-branded FBO network (which consisted of 25 domestic and 18 international locations) “reflects the changing business conditions in a highly competitive environment,” according to a company spokeswoman. The company will continue to provide support in a phased withdrawal as individual FBO contracts expire, the spokeswoman said, and the withdrawal is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

The news did not come as a surprise to many in the network. “The writing was on the wall and everyone knew it,” said one Avitat operator, who wished to remain anonymous. “It was a little bit of a bomb drop to have done it so quickly without a succession plan in place.”

According to an industry source, the individual FBO locations hope to remain associated as an “elite brand,” and have met to discuss possibly maintaining the Avitat brand name, as well as selecting a new fuel supplier. Operators emphasized that service to their customers will not be affected. Jet Aviation, which formed a large segment of the Avitat network, said few of its international locations distribute ExxonMobil fuel and it is currently reviewing its fuel-supply options for those FBOs.