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How to Define Different Types of Ground Handling Companies

AC-U-KWIK now classifies ground handling service companies more specifically. The print directories, including the 2019 International Edition shown, and now label ground handling companies as FBOs, handlers, supervising agents, fuel-only providers or flight support organizations. (Click to enlarge.)Schedulers, dispatchers and pilots know there are wide variations in the facilities and services offered by ground handling companies around the world.

AC-U-KWIK has reorganized these service providers into five more clearly labeled categories so anyone involved in preflight planning can determine more quickly which organizations are more likely to suit the needs of the mission.

The various types of ground handling companies are: FBOs, handlers, supervising agents, fuel suppliers and flight support organizations. AC-U-KWIK defines them in these ways:


The FBO header sets apart those companies that have invested in fixed-base facilities and specialize in serving general and business aviation traffic. They should always be located at the airport wherever they are listed.


Under Handler, we list authorized handling agents. These companies are located at airports and have their own ground handling equipment. They serve commercial aircraft (passenger and cargo) as well as business aviation operators.

Starting this year, we have separated supervising agents and flight support organizations. Previously, they were included in the Handler list and denoted by the (S) symbol. The intention is to provide better clarity for all our users.

Supervising Agents

Supervising agents are listed after handlers. These companies have staff at the airport, but ground or ramp handling is conducted by third parties.

Fuel Only

Fuel-only operators, if present, follow supervising agents. The word Contract sometimes follows a fueler’s name. This label shows that fuel purchase can be arranged by this company, and actual delivery will occur via a local operator.

Flight Support

Operators that arrange fuel purchases but leave the actual fuel delivery to a local third party are listed with the word Contract in parentheses following their names. (Click to enlarge.)Finally, we list flight support companies. They are likely to be based in a centralized operations center, often in another country, and have expertise in arranging flights through specific regions.

In most cases, supervising agents and flight support companies require arrangement in advance.

You can see all of these more descriptive labels on now. For an example, view the Dubai International Airport (OMDB) information page to see companies listed in all five categories.

And the 2019 print editions of the airport and FBO directories, available for pre-order now, will include these labels.

A Note About Avgas

Finally, when considering ground handling, we should remind you to contact the airport/FBO/handler and check avgas availability before flying. In many cases, prior notification is required.

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