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What is an FBO? If you’re wondering, “what does FBO mean,” odds are you’re planning an upcoming trip through a private airport. In aviation, the term, “fixed-base operator,” or FBO, refers to commercial enterprises offering services to charter travelers, crew members, and private pilots. These FBOs have been granted the right by an airport to operate on airport grounds by providing services like hangar space, fuel, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and parking. FBOs are meant to service private aircraft and charter companies, so they are usually exclusive to airports that offer private jet services.

Fixed-Base Operators

Essentially, fixed-base operators serve as private jet terminals at an airport. In some cases, FBOs operate small VIP lounges within the airport terminal while other operators have large facilities for private jets. Most FBOs offer a wide range of services for passengers and crew. At small or remote airports, the town or airport typically provides basic FBO services. At large airports in major cities, there can be several privately-owned fixed-base operators that compete for the business of the permanently stationed and transient general aviation aircraft.

Learn more about FBOs, below, and contact Charter Jet One for assistance routing your charter flight through a preferred FBO.

Overview of Fixed-Base Operators

How Did Fixed-Base Operators Get Started?

The idea of the fixed-base operator dates back to World War I, when aviation regulation was at its nascence. At that time, there was a surplus of inexpensive ex-military aircraft available. Transient pilots, known as “barnstormers,” would fly from town-to-town landing in fields, offering lessons, and performing flight shows to make money so they could maintain their planes and keep flying.

In 1926, the Air Commerce Act was passed by the U.S. government to establish rules for licensing pilots, training pilots, and aircraft maintenance. As a result, many pilots were forced to settle down and establish businesses in small airports to stay compliant. The term “fixed-base operator” was thus coined to distinguish the pilots who had established permanent operations at local airports from the previously transient pilots.

How Does the Economy Impact Fixed-Base Operators?

Since the 2008 recession, the private jet industry has changed drastically regarding ownership of FBOs. Fuel price increases have impacted the economic stability of fixed-base operators around the country. Many of the small, independent FBO companies that were popular in the 1990s have consolidated. The fixed-base operator industry has evolved to the point that there is much more competition between large companies. To get the competitive advantage many FBOs now need, companies focus on niche areas like competitive fuel pricing, exceptional VIP passenger services or other services that will make them stand out.

What Services Can Passengers Expect from Fixed-Base Operators?

FBOs have become commercialized with large organizations operating multiple FBOs in airports around the world. Just like with any brand, some private jet passengers prefer one FBO organization over another and plan their travel around their preferences. Regardless, of your preferences there are some standard expectations passengers should have for their FBO experiences. One of the major benefits when it comes to using an FBO is the ability to avoid the hustle and bustle of the commercial airport. Additionally, passengers can typically show up at the time of the flight and avoid hours of wasted time in the airport.

What Additional Services Do Certain FBOs Provide?

Typically, the range of additional services provided depends on the size and traffic of the airport. When you arrive at the FBO, you may have to go through security checks in addition to any pre-clearance that has already taken place. Charter Jet One can meet you on the runway so you can skip traditional security checks and bag check lines. Then, you will most likely meet your flight captain and be greeted by FBO staff. You will most likely also have your baggage delivered to and from the aircraft to your ground transportation. Most FBOs offer WiFi access, refreshments, and some even offer luxury concierge services and hotel rooms for customers.

What Services Can Pilots Expect From an FBO?

The services offered at fixed-base operators vary widely. Some services are subject to the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration or delegated to a local authority.

However, available passenger services can include any combination of the following:

  • Restaurants
  • Car rentals
  • Short- and long-term parking
  • Spacious lounges with complimentary coffee and snacks
  • Kitchens
  • Showers and changing rooms
  • Business lounges
  • Sleeping rooms
  • Conference rooms
  • TVs and electronic charging stations
  • Concierge services
  • Complimentary WiFi

How Do I Find the Closest FBO?

Unlike commercial airlines, private jets have more access to regional airports nationwide. That means you can probably find an FBO at your nearest large commercial airport or small regional airports. You can do a quick google search to find out more specific details about what services your local FBO provides.

If you’ve already booked a private jet, you will be provided with an itinerary including the address of the FBO departure location. Frequently, fixed-base operators will have their own access roads and parking so that you can avoid the congestion of commercial carrier traffic. Once you experience a few different FBOs as a passenger, you will get a sense about who your preferred fixed-base operator will be for future purposes.

FBO Ratings & Details on the Top Five Private Jet Cities

Fly with Charter Jet One Today

As private flights become more popular, fixed-base operators have become synonymous with third-party organizations that manage facilities and provide aviation services to both crew and passengers. The goal of most FBOs is to make the travel experience as comfortable and convenient as possible, so that private jet passengers will feel at ease and become loyal customers. After all, if you’re paying for a private jet, having access to the luxuries and benefits of fixed-base operators should be a big perk.

If you’ve decided that you want to travel to your next destination via private jet, contact our concierge services at Charter Jet One. We can help inform your vacation plans with details about the best cities for private jet travel. As experts in the private jet and FBO industry, CJ1 is happy to help make accommodations for your next unforgettable vacation in destinations around the world.

When it comes to choosing how to fly, there are many choices. Of course, you can take the route of the commercial airport and expect delays, mediocre food, and a fair amount of travel-related stress. But you could transform your travel time into part of your relaxing vacation by booking a private jet through Charter One and experience the benefits of the fixed-base operator. From your arrival to your departure, you’ll experience an array of amenities and luxuries that cannot be found through any commercial carrier.

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