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FBO Industry Update: Was 2017 a Watershed Year?

By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals, Aviation Business Strategies Group (ABSG)

Note: Bloggers John Enticknap and Ron Jackson will issue the results of their Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey and Industry Forecast on Feb. 6 at the 2018 NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Long Beach, Calif. Also, they will be facilitating the next NATA FBO Success Seminar, now in its 10th year, in Miami on March 6-7.

Prior to releasing the results of our Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey and Industry Forecast for 2018, let’s compare how the FBO industry fared in 2017 to the forecast we made in February last year.

Flight activity

Aviation Business Strategies Group 2017 Forecast: Look for aircraft flight activity to increase steadily at 2.5 percent to 4 percent monthly heading into the third and fourth quarters.

ABSG Update: Business aircraft flight data provided by ARGUS TRAQPak shows that flight activity in 2017 eclipsed 3 million flight hours for the first time since 2008. Overall, 2017 flight activity rose 3.9 percent from 2016 while flight hours rose 5.5 percent for the same period.

Fuel costs

ABSG 2017 Forecast: Aviation fuel costs will follow the price of oil, as in the past, and should level off as oil stabilizes between $55 and $60 per barrel.

ABSG Update: The price of a barrel of oil averaged about $50 per barrel through September 2017 and then increased from $54 in October to $60 in December. The Platts price for Jet A fuel was $1.55 per gallon in February 2017 and closed the year at $1.82 per gallon.

Customer service

ABSG 2017 Forecast: FBO operators will seek to differentiate through delivering a consistent customer service experience.

ABSG Update: Two NATA Certified Customer Service Representative (CCSR) workshops were sellouts. Forty people attended each session. NATA has scheduled three workshops for 2018 to meet increased demand for more professional workshops.

Safety and risk management

ABSG 2017 Forecast: The industry will embrace stronger safety programs and will adopt better risk management controls though initiatives such as SMS and IS-BAH.

ABSG Update: At the end of 2017, the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) announced its International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) program reached 100 registered FBO/BAHA locations, an increase of more than 700 percent from 2015, when there were 14 registered locations.

As you can see, recovery from the 2008-2009 downturn continued in 2017, and the industry invested in the key areas of customer service, safety and risk management. We might look back on 2017 as a watershed year. Time will tell.

So what does 2018 have in store for the FBO industry? Please read our blog next week when we report findings for our FBO Fuel Sales Survey and once again scrutinize our crystal ball for our FBO Industry Forecast.

How did 2017 turn out for your FBO? What are the defining trends and most telling indicators? Please leave a comment on this subject below. If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email:, 404-867-5518;, 972-979-6566.


John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience and is an IS-BAH Accredited auditor. Ron Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or for more background.


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