FBO Management: Ground Transportation
Updated: May 31, 2018
For most who own a private jet, the idea is to simplify their travel by having more flexibility in their flight schedule while maintaining the most hassle free experience possible. That mentality does not vanish once their aircraft touches down and the challenge of finding suitable transportation to bring them to their ultimate destination.
Relief often comes from private rental companies, limousine services, and at times just a regular yellow cab or Uber.
FBO’s are faced then with the problem of having non-airport personnel requesting access, which poses a significant risk when drivers unfamiliar with ramp-side behaviors are on their grounds. Needless to say, FBO managers are cautious when granting companies permission to service passengers on ramp and will often ask for the pick-up to occur curbside to avoid liability issues.
The level of security varies between the size of the organization and the culture of the airport itself. For instance, large, international airports will often have airtight security, with the only drivers allowed rampside working for a select few companies that are certified and sponsored by the operators they service. These drivers undergo the same background checks and training that airport security do to ensure the safest practice possible.
On the other hand, smaller operations tend to have more relaxed and unregulated rules. With no control towers in most small-town or regional airports, and little security, it is easy for outside personnel to simply drive on-ramp and wait for their client to land unannounced. While this may be incredibly convenient for the client in instances where everything goes smoothly, there is serious risk involved to the aircraft on site and Line Crew personnel who may not be expecting a taxi to, say, be blocking the hangar door or speeding around a tied-down Cessna.
What we need to remember is that FBO’s are private organizations, not a public domain. A client flying in may have their own preferences, and those should be catered to if able, but an FBO is allowed to offer or refuse services in order to mitigate the risk of damage. Asking a client to walk from their aircraft and through the front door of the FBO may be a minor inconvenience, but it is far less of an issue than the damage that could be caused to a $30 million jet after someone thought they could sneak under-wing.
The FBO has the power here to form contracts with specific drivers or rental services in order to offer on-ramp pickups. These types of relationships will incentivise ground transportation companies to hold themselves to a higher safety standard given that they can be denied ramp-side access if their drivers do not conduct themselves to the FBO’s guidelines. The FBO can even have any driver check in with the front desk directly, or sign in whenever they are entering the private grounds in order to increase the accountability and general safety practices.
After all, ramp-side service is a privilege that can be taken away by the FBO. Their job is to manage their clients aircraft, not their cars. If an FBO makes this type of service exclusive and with a high standard of operation, than their clients will feel more secure in doing business with them. Further, having limited access to the ramp-side operations opens the ability for FBO’s to form contracts with trusted transportation companies, who will pay for access.
The goal here is to minimize the risk to an FBO’s operation while capitalizing on opportunities to increase revenue. Creating exclusivity to the list of services an FBO offers, such as private car pick up on ramp, adds a sense of inclusiveness that both passengers and transportation companies will buy. For passengers, this may be a service they choose to have as little hassle as possible while traveling, but for transportation companies, being able to offer this service will help them stand out above their competition and build trust with this mutual client.