New FBO Creates Traffic Jump at Detroit General Aviation Airport

Detroit general-aviation field Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport has seen a sharp rise in traffic following the beginning of an improvement program by the city and replacement of the airport's former aviation service provider by another which has set much lower ramp fees and lower fuel prices. Crain's Detroit Business reports that daily traffic at the city-owned airfeld, which is known locally as City Airport, has increased 15 percent to some 300 flights after Signature Flight Support's contract as the airport's fixed-base operator (FBO) ran out on September 30 and Arizona-based Barnstormers Pilot Club was temporarily awarded the FBO contract instead. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing assigned Terrence King, his group executive for operations, to oversee the airport in August following an internal city audit which revealed missing funds and led to the resignation of the airport's former executive director.

Detroit from the air; Credit: Zachary Puchacz, Flickr
Detroit from the air; Credit: Zachary Puchacz, Flickr
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The majority owner of one Detroit-area business-aviation firm noted that Signature Flight Support had been charging $425 as a ramp parking fee for aircraft, in addition to the city's $25 landing fee. Rather than operating to City Airport, many business-aviation firms found it cheaper to fly to Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township west of Pontiac and rent cars to drive downtown.

Following the replacement of Signature Flight Support, the ramp-parking fee has plummeted to $200. Additionally, Barnstormers Pilot Club is charging $4.79 a gallon for Jet A and $4.49 a gallon for 100-octane low-lead AvGas (used by piston-powered aircraft), where Signature Flight Support had been charging more than $7 a gallon for fuel.

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