North Dakota Airport and FBO Impact Study
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North Dakota Airport and FBO Impact Study

Filetype[PDF-3.72 MB]



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    Aviation is part of the North Dakota's economic infrastructure providing passenger air service, air freight, air ambulance, agricultural services, and jobs to the local economy. Businesses that consider locating in the state often evaluate transportation, including scheduled air service, air-freight, aircraft lease, hangar rental, air taxi service, aircraft fuel, and maintenance. Aviation services at most airports are provided by Fixed-base Operators (FBO). Like any other industry, FBOs and airport operators are faced with competition, a changing global economy, increased regulations, and the need to renovate the way business is conducted to meet the ever growing demands of their clients. Building an airport, extending a runway, or improving services, offers no guarantees that customers would seek to spend their money at the local airport or the community will support the airport. Promoting the airport as an asset to people in the community and especially those in government, takes on an urgency if an airport is to survive. Promoting the airport cannot be a one-time effort, but an on-going process that takes time and commitment to win support. Users and providers of aviation services must to be involved in the continuous and positive promotion of the airport (Minnesota Flyer Magazine 1996). Aviation experts predict the number of FBOs in the United States will continue to decline from an estimated 10,000 in the 1980s to approximately 4,000 in the 1990s to less than 2,000 by the turn of the century. FBO's return on investment is among the lowest when compared to service, manufacturing, and other transportation industries. In today's ever-changing market, FBOs may have to adapt to the new "global era" of doing business. As another aviation expert explained it, "FBO's have three choices, one, grow through acquisition and internally; two, downsize into a niche that can be dominated; or three, stand still and be rolled over" (Searles 1993). While some FBO choose to get out of business, others are fighting back. The exceptions are building partnerships with their community, participating in local politics, providing services their customers may not find elsewhere, closely monitoring daily operations, and seeking opportunities for positive media attention. These and other efforts return profits that may help FBOs stay in business.
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