FLIGHT PLANNING

Fuel sellers respond to growing schedulers and dispatchers role

Av depts say S&Ds now pick FBOs 70–80% of the time.


London Air Services Scheduling Coordinators Darryl Shaw (L) and Megan Simpson work to find the best service and fuel prices for their mixed fleet of fixed and rotary-wing charter aircraft.

Some schedulers say they are making more price-based decisions than they did 2 or 3 years ago.

“We began tracking landing fees and FBO ramp fees more closely beginning a year ago,” says Debra Vis, a scheduler for GRR (Grand Rapids MI)-based Steelcase.

“We also check how many gallons we have to purchase to waive ramp fees at the FBO. Five years ago we were not tracking this information in detail.” “We have changed FBOs we have used for years due to fuel pricing programs offered by competing FBOs,” says Stockton.

Some of the niceties that prevailed in the past may be going away. “In the past,” says Vis, “some pilots may have considered purchasing 200 gallons from a small FBO in order to show appreciation for service to help with their profit. Now, if it doesn’t save our company money versus tankering from our fuel farm, there is no fuel purchase.”

Customer loyalty

Schweitzer Engineering Scheduler Donna Wolf consults her scheduling software to help find the best fuel prices and select appropriate FBOs.

I see customer loyalty as a thing of the past right now,” says Stockton. “That is a very unfortunate truth in today’s market. Price has definitely taken customer loyalty out of the equation.” Vis doesn’t entirely agree.

“While there may be instances where loyalty is sacrificed and a change is made due to price,” she says, “we’ve also found that, since everyone is eager to please in the current environment, sometimes a phone call to a supplier or vendor will help toward a solution that is mutually beneficial for both parties.”

McCullough says, “Flight departments are getting smarter about managing their fuel expenses but don’t seem willing to sacrifice customer service entirely to get the lowest price. As long as the FBO is showing some willingness to consider the current pricing and economic environment, in most cases the flight department seems willing to maintain a level of loyalty.”

Mike Potts is an aviation consultant and freelance writer. He worked in corporate communications for Beech and Raytheon Aircraft between 1979 and 1997.

 

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