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Entries in Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (6)


FBOs Share Their Outlook for 2018

Every January, FBOs begin to gear up for the annual NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Conference where they can attract new business to their ramp while cementing trusted relationships with current customers.

At this year’s conference, Feb. 6-9 in Long Beach, Calif., we had a chance to converse with many FBO owners and operators, as well as schedulers and dispatchers, to find out how they view the health of the industry and if there are any real concerns going forward. We believe the following statements reflect the overall opinion on each subject:

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2016 FBO Fuel Sales Survey Shows Mixed Bag Results, Forecast for 2017 Is Very Bullish

Although FBO fuel sales were mixed in 2016, the industry widely expects sales to increase in 2017, according to the results of the Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey released today by Aviation Business Strategies Group at the Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

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What FBOs Can Take Away from the NBAA S&D Conference

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

The transient business aircraft customer is still the lifeblood of FBO fuel sales. Attracting them to the FBO ramp is the primary reason the annual NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Conference is heavily attended by FBO owners and operators.

At this year's event, held January 19-22 in Tampa, Fla., we witnessed both a record crowd and a record number of exhibitors. More than 2,800 attendees were kept busy with 29 scheduled educational sessions and 517 exhibitors consisting mostly of FBOs displaying under fuel company banners.

It's truly a symbiotic relationship. The schedulers and dispatchers benefit from numerous educational sessions and scholarships provided by various aviation services companies. The FBOs get to network and meet face to face with the S&D contingency to make a positive impression in order to attract their coveted turbine aircraft fleet.

Of note is the splendid job of the Schedulers and Dispatchers Committee, along with the NBAA, in putting together and running an excellent conference. Every year seems to get better. Hats off to their tireless chairperson for this year's S&D, Eve Gregory, flight services manager, C&S Aviation.

As we conversed with many of the exhibiting FBOs, we were able to get a feel for some of the top opportunities, issues and concerns facing the FBO industry. In order of ranking, with No. 1 being the liveliest topic, we believe the following statements represent the overall opinion of each topic:

Tankering of fuel and more efficient aircraft

  • Although we will probably see a slight increase in uplifts this year, we are also seeing a few of the larger customers purchasing fuel at previous stops or tankering fuel from their home base through to their destination.
  • We are a transient/resort destination. There is a lower percentage of aircraft taking fuel now than there used to be.

Aging GA owners

  • General aviation is losing people that fly. This hurts our Avgas sales. A lot of the old timers are aging out, and there aren't as many younger pilots and owners taking their place due to high costs of airplane ownership.

Facility fees on rise

  • There's going to be a bigger spotlight put on the cost of providing facility services that was previously paid via fuel sales. With FBOs dealing with contract fuel pricing and better fuel management by aircraft operators, we are going to have to charge ramp, parking and facility fees.

Contract fueling

  • Now more than ever, an FBO seems to have to compete with low contract fuel prices. Also, courtesy fuel purchases are disappearing.

Better customer service

  • An FBO that provides a better customer service experience, one that exceeds expectations of the client to some degree, will be fine in this coming year.

Lower fuel prices

  • Lower fuel prices have contributed to higher fuel margins if we manage these margins wisely. However, the higher margins are countered by the increased salary that is necessary to keep skilled and experienced workers.
  • With lower fuel prices, it proves that fuel is becoming more and more a commodity and no longer the stable source of operational revenue relied on by FBOs for many years.

In addition to attending the S&D Conference, we also released the results of our Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey. Please click here to see the results.

If you would like to add a comment about the opportunities, issues and concerns facing the FBO industry, please do so at the end of this blog in the comment section.

In addition, we cover many of these topics in detail at our Annual NATA FBO Success Seminar scheduled for March 8-9 in New Orleans. We urge all FBO owners, operators, managers and supervisors to attend this seminar and participate in lively discussions on these topics and others.

About the bloggers:

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience. 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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FBO Fuel Sales Survey: 54 Percent of FBOs Say Fuel Sales Increased in 2015

Fifty-four percent of U.S. FBOs say their fuel sales increased in 2015 compared to 2014, according to the 2016 Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey results released by Aviation Business Strategies Group at the 2016 NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Tampa, Fla.

Of the 54 percent of FBOs surveyed that reported increased fuel sales in 2015, 23 percent reported a 1 to 4 percent increase, 15 percent reported a 5 to 8 percent increase, and 16 percent reported an 8 percent or greater increase, ABSG principals John Enticknap and Ron Jackson say. Enticknap and Jackson are the AC-U-KWIK FBO Connection bloggers.

The increase in fuel sales in 2015 builds on increases in the two previous years. For 2014, 49 percent of responding FBOs reported a year-over-year increase in fuel sales. Surveyed about 2013, 43 percent of FBOs reported greater fuel sales compared to 2012.

“This is the first time since we started the survey that more than 50 percent of the respondents experienced an increase in fuel sales over the previous year,” Enticknap says.

Although a majority of FBOs reported increased sales, 28 percent of FBOs responding to the survey experienced a decrease in fuel sales in 2015, Enticknap says. The other 18 percent of FBOs says fuel sales were flat.

“This is still a fractured marketplace that is showing some positive signs of recovery,” Enticknap says.

FBOs also provided a forecast for 2016. Most FBOs participating in the survey — 58 percent — say they expect an increase in fuel sales in 2016 compared to 2015, Jackson says. Although no respondents expect to increase fuel sales by more than 8 percent, 18 percent expect a 5 to 8 percent increase, and 40 percent expect a 1 to 4 percent increase.

“Looking ahead, more than 90 percent of surveyed respondents said they expect to have the same or increased fuel sales this year compared to their 2015 results,” Jackson says. “If this forecast holds up, 2016 could prove to be a watershed year for the industry.”

These expectations for 2016 are similar to expectations FBOs had for 2015. One year ago, the Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey found that 61 percent of FBOs were predicting an increase in 2015 fuel sales. In all, 89 percent had been expecting flat or increased fuel sales in 2015.

When asked about their expectations for the economy in general, 41 percent of the responding FBOs said the economy is not heading in the right direction, and 27 percent have a positive outlook about the economy. The rest — 32 percent — were undecided.

Transients’ Tankering Taking Hold

Finally, Enticknap and Jackson asked about fuel purchases by transient customers in this year’s survey.

“Nearly half the respondents indicated that up to 40 percent of aircraft customers coming onto their ramp did not buy fuel,” Enticknap says. “With the current U.S. FBO business model relying on fuel sales to fund their operation, this is an alarming development.”

Enticknap attributes this phenomenon of aircraft stopping on an FBO’s ramp without a fuel purchase to two factors. More flight departments are choosing to tanker fuel to their destinations and back to their bases. And more jets are more fuel efficient.

To adjust to this trend, Enticknap offers the advice he and Jackson share with FBOs at the NATA FBO Success Seminar: FBOs can charge customers a ramp fee and a fee to use the facility, he says.


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Results of Our Annual FBO Industry Survey Predict 2.5% Average Fuel Sales Increase for 2015


By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals of Aviation Business Strategies Group
- Facilitators of NATA’s FBO Success Seminar and Authors of the forthcoming book: FBO Survival: 10 Tips to Keep Your Operations Lean, Mean & Profitable


This week at the NBAA Schedulers and Dispatchers (S&D) Convention in San Jose, CA, we will release the results of our Annual FBO Industry Survey and Forecast for 2015.

We are happy to report that for the first time in several years, we’re seeing a glimmer of optimism amongst the majority of FBO owners and operators we encounter and are included in the survey. In a nutshell, the results indicate a current market that has yet to catch any real traction but also one that is being approached with guarded optimism with more than 60 percent predicting an average increase in fuel sales of at least 2.5 percent. (See related chart.)

This projection follows another year when fuel sales were depressed with the majority reporting an actual decrease in sales in 2014.

Overall, the outlook for 2015 shows a perceptible increase in optimism compared to the results from the 2014 survey where the majority of respondents predicted at least a breakeven marketplace with only about 40 percent projecting an increase in fuel sales volume.

Conversely, in our 2015 survey, more than 60 percent predicted an increase in fuel sales, which represents a positive upswing of 20 percent.

As far as forecasting confidence in the economy, the majority of survey respondents moved from having little or no confidence in 2014 to a comfortable middle ground position in 2015. Last year, the majority said the economy was not moving in the right direction. For 2015, most said they are undecided. Again, we see this is an indication of guarded optimism.

In what we call our high-water benchmark, 18 percent of those surveyed this year said they predicted an increase in fuel sales of 5 to 8 percent. This compares to 10 percent responding to the same question in 2014. And for the really strong performers, 8 percent of respondents said they expect an increase in fuel sales of more than 8 percent, which is the same result for last year’s survey.

An added question to this year’s survey queried respondents on whether the recent decrease in oil prices has affected the number of aircraft flying into their FBO. An overwhelming majority said the amount of traffic has remained about the same.

What we saw in the comment section of our survey is a general observation that piston aircraft owners and, in particular, the weekend enthusiasts are starting to fly more with lower posted avgas prices. Also, many who responded indicated that aviation fuel prices will not come down as quickly as auto gas because there is still a lot of higher priced fuel in inventory at airport storage facilities.

In looking at flight hours flown by general aviation and business aircraft, which we know is a key statistic linked to potential FBO fuel sales, the numbers continued to be flat in 2014. As a result, we really don’t see flight hours increasing in the short term, even though fuel prices are coming down.

Based on our survey findings, we forecast aviation fuel prices continuing to drop throughout 2015 with no appreciable increase in flight activity until the third quarter.

If you are attending the S&D Conference, we would like to see you so please stop by the ACUWKIK Booth #1723. Also, please attend our special Exhibitor Session at 5:15 pm in the Exhibit Hall.

In addition, there will be a drawing at the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) booth #1511 for a free registration for our next NATA FBO Success Seminar scheduled for March 9-10 in Las Vegas. Registrants will receive a free copy of our new book, FBO Survival! 10 Tips to Keep Your Operation Lean, Mean and Profitable. The free registration and book are valued at more than $700.

About the bloggers:

John Enticknap
John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience and has served as president/CEO of Mercury Air Centers, a network of FBOs he grew from four facilities to 21 locations. He has international FBO experience including opening the Royal Aviation Terminal in Kuwait. John has held executive management positions with DynAir Fueling and CSX Becket Aviation and holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial management from Northeastern University. He teaches the acclaimed FBO Success Seminar for the National Aviation Transportation Association (NATA) and is an NATA certified safety auditor. John is the co-author of the forthcoming book FBO Survival! Keeping Your Operation Lean, Mean & Profitable. He also writes an industry blog titled FBO Connection for Penton‘s B&CA Digest. He is an active ATP and CFI rated pilot with more than 8,100 flight hours; certified in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft., Ph: 404-867-5518,

Ron Jackson
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. He has held management positions with Cessna Aircraft, Fairchild Aircraft and Bozell Advertising. Ron developed the strategic marketing communication plan and programs for Mercury Air Centers and consults with numerous FBOs in areas of marketing, promotions and customer service training. He is the author of Don’t Forget the Cheese! The Ultimate FBO Customer Service Experience. and co-author of the forthcoming book FBO Survival! Keeping Your Operation Lean, Mean & Profitable. He is a journalist and co-developed NATA’s acclaimed FBO Success Seminar Series. Ron writes an industry blog for Penton’s B&CA Digest titled: The FBO Connection.,  Ph: 972-979-6566,