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Wed, Mar 17, 2010

Florida Legislature Considering Laws Targeting FBOs

Would Place Restrictions On What Some FBOs May Charge For Fuel, Other Services

Florida Senator Carey Baker (R) has introduced an amendment to Florida Senate Bill 1500 ( SB1500) which would prohibit FBOs from controlling the price of their fuel if they're the sole contractor at a public-use airport. In addition, the amendment would prohibit the imposition of storage, landing, or departure fees on aircraft that are located on public-use airport property for less than 90 minutes. The bill is on the calendar of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means at 1300 Wednesday, March 17th.

The text of the amendment states that:

  • "The single contractor or fixed-based operator at an airport described in subsection (2)
  • May not require a minimum fuel purchase.
  • Must charge a reasonable price for aviation fuel which is approved by the Department of Transportation.

In determining the reasonable price of aviation fuel, the department shall consider the following factors:

  • The cost of the fuel.
  • Fuel prices at other public-use airports within a 50-mile radius of the airport.
  • Fuel prices at similarly sized public-use airports in the state having a similar volume of general aviation or commercial traffic.
  • A reasonable profit to the provider, consistent with fuel prices at other public-use airports in the state.

The language is in an amendment to a bill authorizing a refund of the aviation fuel tax collected on aviation fuel purchased by certain commercial airlines in the state capital under certain circumstances. It provides for application of certain refund  administration procedures,prohibits application in certain  municipalities, and prohibits implementation from reducing or otherwise  adversely affecting certain aviation grants. An identical companion to the overlying bill, H931, has been introduced in the Florida House, but no amendment has been proposed that includes the Baker Amendment language specific to FBO's, and it has not been scheduled for action in any of the three House committees with jurisdiction over the bill. Two other Senate committees must also pass the measure before it would be taken up by the full Senate.

NATA has taken the position that the Florida Legislature is trying to impose restrictions on FBOs that are unfounded. An FBO should have the authority to determine a fuel charge that fits its business model and customer base at a public-use airport. Fuel rates for any business, whether it's a gasoline station or an FBO selling aviation gas or jet fuel, should be at the discretion of that business and not the Department of Transportation. Enforcing these mandates creates an even bigger problem, as the state aviation department lacks the resources to take on such a task.

NATA contends that a public-use airport receiving federal funding should not be required to adhere to a uniform state law prohibiting competition and business growth at airports throughout the state. There are many small businesses that operate out of public-use airports that contribute much needed jobs in the state.

NATA is urging its members who have an interest in Florida to contact the Members of the Committee on Ways and Means immediately and request they oppose SB 1500, and strongly encourages its members to be outspoken in opposition to the bill. The Florida legislative session must wrap up all business by the April 30th, 2010.

FMI: http://www.flsenate.gov/session/index.cfm?BI_Mode=ViewBillInfo&Mode=Bills&ElementID=JumpToBox&SubMenu=1&Year=2010&billnum=1500

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