Don’t lose sight of the FBOs during the COVID-19 pandemic



Louisville, KY: April 8, 2020 – COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus), has continued to spread throughout the United States and many parts of the world. This is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As new guidance and mandates are being written discouraging travel, the aviation industry has been greatly affected. Airlines down to FBOs are attempting to make sense of the virus and how their business can move forward during and after the virus spread has stopped.

FBOs are integral at airports large and small. The staff works tirelessly to ensure that fuel, flight training, charter operations, maintenance, and even a relaxing spot to sit are of no shortage on the field.

For FBOs like Executive Air whose fuel sales account for a large majority of their revenue, the loss of the typical transient traffic is noticeable. However, many pilots are taking the time to have maintenance done on their aircraft. Executive Air is still performing maintenance on aircraft as well as servicing airlines who are still flying.

While the FBO is still operating, the staff are practicing social distancing and following health guidance set forth. For instance, the public lobby and training rooms have been closed. Executive Air is protecting its staff by limiting their exposure and protecting customers by limiting access to these public spaces.

Beatriz Alarcon, the Business Development Manager for Jetscape Services, notes that their FBO began noticing a slow down in traffic and fuel sales the week of March 16th. With a sudden drop in daily arrivals and departure reservations, Jetscape began searching for other ways to fuel revenue.

Other services are offered through Jetscape, including limo service, aircraft cleaning and sanitization, and the option for airlines to park downed aircraft on ramps at a cost.

Jetscape Services continue to follow the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) COVID-19 Guidance for FBOs and Ground Handlers closely. Alarcon also suggests reaching out to your FBO network to learn about their facility adjustments. Free webinars are being provided by NBAA and NATA that can provide additional guidance.

The NATA’s COVID-19 Guidance for FBOs and Ground Handlers went into effect on March 19, 2020. This document was drafted by the NATA Safety Committee to guide FBOs and other business aviation ground handlers in managing through the COVID-19 pandemic health crisis.

Section 3 of the Guidance highlights operational instruction:

· To ensure the safety of personnel, all transport category charter and medical flight arrangements should be made in advance of arrival.

· Establish a contingency plan for all critical operations, including fuel receipt, fuelling, towing, counter, and accounting operations.

Section 4.3 of the Guidance highlights FBO/facility preparation:

· Evaluate personnel, contract workers, and vendors for symptoms of disease prior to and during work.

· Post hand hygiene notices around the workplace, including entrances, bulletin boards, line operations rooms, and restrooms.

Section 4.4 of the Guidance highlights cleaning and disinfecting instruction:

· Wear rubber gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the facility and surrounding areas.

· Disinfectant/antiseptic solutions should be applied hourly to high-risk, high-traffic areas and items.

· Disinfect pilot lounge chairs after use.

· Bar the use of exercise rooms at this time.

As the aviation industry continues to push through the health crisis, having the support of official guidance and professional networks is not only crucial but also essential. Finding ways in which to maintain revenue at a time when traffic is limited is important to maintain the function of the FBO.

FBOs on the field are crucial to the aviation industry. Each FBO is a backbone to its airport and city.

Supporting their efforts to continue safe operations is key to ensuring that the aviation industry can come out of this pandemic as strong as before.