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Landing fees - ideas sought (Gloucester)

For the last couple of years, we've canvassed the opinions of our customers regarding landing fees, ahead of our annual changes in April. I posted the following on another well known forum, but I'd appreciate your thoughts too.

Here at Gloucester, we normally review our scale of charges on 1st April. As part of the process this year, we've offered our residents the opportunity to comment or come up with any ideas.

Landing fees are a regular topic of discussion on this forum and we'd appreciate your input in a sensible and constructive way as to what you think works. Please don't start your post with 'In America/France/any other country where airports are publicly funded...' and bear in mind that at the end of the day, we're a business that needs to make a profit. Otherwise, we're open to suggestions.

In return for your hard earned dosh, you get 3 hard and one grass runways, full ATC with radar, navaids and GPS approaches (and very soon to be ILS), a cafe, pilot shop and wide portfolio of training and engineering facilities and hangarage.

We currently charge £8.50 for microlights, £12.99 for under 800kg and LAA Permit, £15 for PPL students and £19.99 for your average 'spam can', which is discounted to £13 for refuel. Twins are £30.00, reducing by roughly 40% when refuelling. Visitors buying UL91 pay £5. We also operate a loyalty card scheme, where your 5th landing is free. The full scale of charges is at:

http://www.gloucestershireairport.co.uk/Portals/4/PDFs/SCALE%20OF%20CHARGES%20Master%20Apr2012-Mar2013.pdf

Against a backdrop of inflation and a very high, but pretty fixed cost base, we're not going to be able to work miracles but you're our customers, what do you want? Over to you...

Incurable aeronut
EGBJ, United Kingdom

Good post, good attitude. The actual cost to operate an airport is real, and it is fair to expect the users to cheerfully contribute.

That contribution can take forms other than money. Consider allowing frequent airport users to actually contribute directly to the maintenance of the airport, in return for use of the airport. Some student pilots might rather apply their modest funds to the operation of the aircraft, and work in exchange for other costs - let them cut grass, sweep the apron,fix fences, and paint runway stripes if they would like to! I used to do maintenance at the airport where I used to keep my plane, and everyone was happy.

Be transparent about the costs to run the airport, and how the fees and other income cover that.

Pilots - pay the fair cost, and a modest profit to a business. I pay no fees to land or hangar my planes at home - but I did buy the land, build and maintain the runway, build the hangar, and I pay the electricity and taxes, so I think I'm entitled to the use for free!

Airport business, be accountable to your clients - they are your primary source of income. If you do not have a cost, don't pretend that you do. If the airport was "given for a dollar", admit that you're not trying to recover the land cost, or otherwise amortize it through user fees.

Encourage students to do circuits (needed for proficiency) by greatly discounting training/proficiency multiple landing fees.

Just my thoughts, thanks for asking!

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada, Canada

matspart3,

If I remember correctly you asked a similar question previously on another forum.

I like a number of others suggested that you make bikes available to visitors so that they could get off the airport grounds. New bikes aren't necessary....old banngers would be fine....just something to get them mobile.

I think you said that the time that you were going do organise that.

Looking at your website and your Pooley's entry, I see no mention of this. Did it ever happen?

Price is not the only way to compete ;) If you got your bikes, then let people know! Put it on your website and in your flight guide pages.

Perhaps a page on your website for "visiting pilots" which would give some information such as:

  1. Car hire details (which you already have on another page)
  2. bike hire details
  3. Local bus details. I understand that there is a bus route nearby. How often does it go, where does it go to, how to get back, route number, cost, link to local bus company details for further info. etc
  4. Details of some things to do in the local area (give people a reason to visit beyond the airport itself). This could be details of the local towns and shopping (how to get there and back), perhaps a suggested cycle route, local scienic attractions, anything of historical or cultural interest. A reason to visit other than cost.
  5. Suggestions for local places to eat, type of food, typical prices, perhaps a link to their website if they have one.

Basically I'm suggesting give people: a) A reason to visit that it off airfield b) Tell them how to get there and back c) Where to eat.

Places to stay might be another one but probably less necessary.

I have been to Gloucester once. It was a day trip. I never left the airport because I'd no idea where I could get to and what could be seen/done in the local area. I have no real reason to revisit, and no idea what I'd do if I went back. The landing fee isn't an offput for a single trip....the flight costs way more than the landing ;) I just need a reason to visit.

Even some free wrecked bikes, and a suggested nice cycle route (nothing particularly special needed, just a nice route of maybe 1 hours duration) and somewhere to stop along the route for lunch would be plenty of reason to return.

A pages on your website for this I think might be much more useful to getting the causual visitor rather than tinkering with your landing fees, and less expensive ;)

dp

EICL Clonbulogue, Ireland

Anyone involved running a business in the UK, unless you are one of the utilities!!!!, appreciates how hard it is to break even, let alone make profit. Times are tough, however, rather than a race to the bottom as plenty of others are doing, as a previous poster suggests, make yourself niche. Keep the price point where you are not struggling, but are offering service, value for money, and perceived good value.

I would also suggest that you keep it simple, transparent, and let your customers know what added value they can expect by basing, visiting, training at your field. This is not easy, and I appreciate a number of customers may not even care, but frankly, these may be the ones you never wanted anyway.

I have operated at fields, where if I base my aeroplane, I get free landings. This works well, obviously the landings are not free, but a fixed monthly cost, which again is transparent, helps greatly.

We all moan about the price of landing fees, however, I moan, when I arrive at a grass strip, with zero amenities, and someone tries to charge me 15 quid. If I arrive at a field, that has all bells and whistles, and it cost me 40 quid, as long as I am not taken by surprise, there should not be an issue.

Your current costs would appear pretty reasonable for what you offer, and I would sugest a hike may well be prudent. However, this is always a risky strategy, you will lose some, but may gain more in the longer term.

Good luck, and I agree that this is a good way to gauge reaction, and to sound out others.

Fly safe. I want this thing to land l...
EGPF Glasgow

I am not entirely sure what the question is. It sounds like 'how much can we put the landing fees up'.

I think your fees have been reasonable when I visited in a PA-46, but I certainly didn't get the maintenance facilities included!

How do your fees compare to Oxford which I presume is your closest competitor?

EGTK Oxford

The current prices seem fair given the facilities. If the prices were to increase significantly, I think that may start to put people off. A couple of points:

  • The landing fee for your average 'spam can' is cheaper than for SE sub 800kg and LAA permit if the 'spam can' refuels. Consider introducing a reduced fee for those other categories if they uplift fuel.

  • The PPL visitor rate is a great idea. However, the £24 fee is much more attractive for 'spam cans' than sub 450kg, SE sub 800kg and LAA permit. Consider a lower visitor rate for those categories.

  • Don't underestimate how important the quality of the airport cafe is in attracting more visitors and therefore generating more income. This is just an observation, not a criticism - I've not yet visited Gloucester so I don't know how good the current one is.

Fairoaks, United Kingdom

Gloucester is an excellent airport, very GA friendly. It is in a fortunate position of having a good catchment area, in terms of both well-off population and bizjet-size-wealth, and it is the latter which makes most of the money. It has GPS approaches and ILS is imminent. As a GA-accessible airport, I don't think it can be much improved. Well, it could go H24

I wonder if they will go for GPS/LPV; currently very few people are LPV-capable, but it is slowly coming along, with GTN650 installs.

I think the prices are about right.

The biggest chunk of an airfield's gross profit comes from fuel sales (my guess is that gross profit on avgas is about 30p/litre, so an average fill on say a TB20 makes about £60) so one needs to draw in people who are going to buy fuel.

There is a sizeable GA sub-community which won't pay more than £10 or so, but I don't think they are going to buy much fuel either.

The £30 landing fee for twins is especially good. On top of burning (and buying) the most fuel, their owners are getting ripped off more or less everywhere for flying a plane which is only about 30-40% bigger in wingspan. Where I am based, Shoreham, the bizzare mandatory handling setup over 2500kg means many twins pay vastly more and the very visible result is that twin traffic there has practically vanished.

Gloucester has a reasonably good "pub" type restaurant within 2 mins' walking distance. Like most GA airports it is only mid-quality food (and I struggle to find something healthy, so I stick to a bowl of soup) but it is a lot better than some others I won't mention where the cucumber was cut the day before

I am not sure if this is already the case but a bowser is more handy than pumps, to a pilot who is working to a schedule. Sometimes there is a queue at pumps. I have certainly skipped a refuel at Gloucester, which I would have otherwise done, because of this. So an avgas bowser would be a plus.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
7 Posts
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