What is a fixed-base operator?
When you charter a private plane, you may depart from a fixed-base operator (or FBO for short). A fixed-base operator is a service center for aircraft. An FBO may be a private enterprise or a subsidiary of the airport or local municipality. Since they are a separate entity, the FBO is usually located a short distance from the main terminal at major airports.
Many provide jet charter service such as:
- Aircraft maintenance
- Fuel service
- Ground transportation
- Hangar services
Most fixed-base operators own at least one, or sometimes several aircraft, which range from helicopters and turbo-props to heavy jets and airliners. In the US alone, there are an estimated 5,200 FBOs, including independents and chain operations.
A growing trend is FBOs partnering with major hotels and retailers to offer upscale amenities. Many FBOs are being re-designed with plush lounges, private meeting rooms, and perhaps even a spa area. When you charter a private plane at an FBO that is partnered with a hotel, you can literally walk off the aircraft and into your hotel.
Other advantages of boarding your aircraft at the FBO are the convenience, discretion, and security. With a private jet charter, there are no line-ups. Simply arrive at the FBO about 30 minutes before to your flight. You’ll pass through check-in and a quick security check before heading directly to your aircraft. High-profile travelers can avoid the public and the paparazzi by taking ground transportation directly from the FBO to the aircraft. Likewise, once valuable cargo has cleared the security check, it can be escorted directly to the aircraft.