We Pay, They Don’t

Posted by in Aviation, Politics

Yesterday we alighted in San Francisco to drop off a few passengers. Despite the fact that we were only on the ground for about twenty minutes and used no services, the FBO (fixed base operator) there still charged us $1,100 for the privilege.

Contrast that with the U.S. government, which took over the office of a Boulder City FBO for four days, ran wiring, installed phone lines, confiscated his entire operation for a full day in support of a visit by President Obama, and then balked at the $50/day discounted rate that the owner asked the federal government to pay.

First they refused to pay anything, later relenting and adding that they’d never use his facility again.

“The one client I have today wants it for free,” Fahnespock. “It’s really baffling how they can comprehend not being charged for this.”

His FBO has no ramp or tiedown fees for the day, so there was no charge for Marine One, but he regularly charges clients for use of his facilities. Normally, Fahnespock said, he would charge a customer $500 total for a similar setup to what he proposed at $200 for the government.

Fahnespock received a plaque for his business’ hospitality, and he said the officials and enlisted servicemen based at his office were “very cordial and nice, very professional.” But, he still had a beef with the government: “I probably wouldn’t have as much heartburn” if general aviation weren’t facing user fees.

The Government Accountability Office estimated in 2000 that Marine One cost approximately $56,518 per hour to operate. That’s $70,834 per hour in today’s dollars. Yet the White House cannot abide providing a small business owner even a fraction of the normal revenue he’d receive for allowing his facility to be used by a customer.

We pay, they don’t. Your government at work.