FBOs or Fixed Base Operators are one of the major service providers in the aviation industry. These companies hold leases which grant them operating rights to perform certain services at an airport. A ground handler, on the other hand, typically operates under a concession agreement rather than a long term lease. Ground handlers offer below the wing services, although some may also provide additional services. In this post, we will discuss the importance and benefits of both FBOs and ground handlers.
What is an FBO?
Fixed Base Operators offer a wide array of aviation services, from core line services such as fueling and hangaring aircraft to many additional ancillary services. The term ‘FBO’ can be confusing, because the nature and extent of services can be different in every country. FBOs primarily deliver services for private aircraft using their facilities, although they can provide services to commercial flights at airline terminals as well. Full-service Fixed Base Operators (which provide most airport services organically) are mostly found in Europe and North America, while in other regions FBOs are the central point of contact and arrange services which may be provided by other third parties.
Who’s a ground handler?
As evident from the name, ground handlers basically deal in services that are required on ground, such as managing aircraft and ensuring smooth flow of traffic at an airport. In most cases, ground handlers are licensed by the airport through a concession agreement. While most companies deal in ‘below wing’ services, some may offer services that are conducted in the terminal as well, such as performing ticketing or gate agent services.. Additional certifications and licenses may be required in certain regions. Note that FBOs can provide ground handler services and are often the main airline service provider at smaller commercial airports.
What’s above and below wing services?
Above Wing services are assistance and help to crew and passengers for ticketing, aircraft loading and transportation to and from the aircraft. This may include other services as well such as offering in-flight catering and local transportation on the airport. On the contrary, below wing services deal with baggage handling, water services, fuel coordination and management of power units, tugging aircraft and other services. An FBO or a ground handling company may be capable of providing coordinated, comprehensive above and below wing services at an airport.
About Global Aviation Infrastructure
Global Aviation Infrastructure is a leading aviation management company which provides Fixed Base Operation (FBO), Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), Aircraft Charter and Management (ACM), and aviation infrastructure management for aviation asset owners, corporations, airports, private equity firms, family offices and financial institutions. For more information please visit
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Steven Levesque, Principal
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