What to Look for When Choosing an Aviation Contract Fuel Program

> | December 24, 2013 | 0 Comments
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What to Look for When Choosing an Aviation Contract Fuel Program

For business aircraft operators, one of the most effective ways to minimize operating costs, particularly when traveling internationally, is to use the services of contract fuel providers. Contract fuel programs offer significant monetary savings, ease fuel credit issues and ensure higher levels of service around the world. Best practice is to do your due diligence and upfront legwork on research into contract fuel programs, as they all have their own unique strengths and potential weaknesses.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. What types of aviation contract fuel programs are available?

There are many different contract fuel programs available to general aviation. Some are focused on particular regions, such as Africa or the US. Other contract fuel programs are optimized for certain types of operators, such as private non-revenue operations.

2. How does a contract fuel program differ from a reseller or fuel management provider?

A fuel reseller is a company that resells fuel purchased from another supplier, but the reseller may also be a contract fuel provider. Fuel management providers use the operator’s accounts, with different resellers and contract fuel programs, to shop for the best-priced fuel. Contract fuel programs, on the other hand, have direct contracts with oil companies and fuel suppliers to provide a wide range of jet fuel availability for operators. Contract fuel providers and resellers are able to leverage buying power to provide better fuel pricing at airports all over the world.

3. What are the advantages of using an aviation contract fuel program?

With a contract fuel program, operators can obtain the least expensive jet fuel from various supplier-branded locations and different fuel providers. Another advantage is when arranging fuel uplifts, business aircraft operators do not have to contact multiple fuel providers and do not need to maintain a number of different credit lines with various oil companies and fuel providers. Contract fuel providers arrange fuel credit worldwide either with aviation fuel cards, often accepted on sight, or fuel releases when required. Some contract fuel programs assist operators in exempting or reclaiming value added tax (VAT), and excise duties on fuel. They may also offer significant volume discounts for larger aircraft operators. These programs also offer expert knowledge on various airports worldwide, in terms of fuel, credit and service availability.

4. Are there fuel volume requirements that must be met?

Depending on the location, some fuelers require a certain number of gallons/liters be obtained in order to qualify for a contract fuel price. In other cases, you may need to uplift a certain volume in order to be exempt from ramp fees. At some locations around the world, you may pay a higher price if you’re not operating a "large" aircraft. Best practice is to check with your contract fuel provider on volume uplift requirements at various airport locations.

5. What’s the best way to select an aviation contract fuel program?

Ensure that the contract fuel program is compliant with such things as Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) regulations and that it follows all relevant regulations of the appropriate country. Ideally, the fuel program should have a wide scope of locations and a certain level of expertise at all the locations you operate or may operate to. Consider the program’s availability – not just at the destinations you plan to fly to, but for surrounding areas as well – in the event of a flight diversion. Use a contract fuel provider that’s trustworthy and does not have any hidden costs associated with their card. Widely-recognized contract fuel providers are capable of dealing with language barriers across the world and will assist in arranging credit and, when necessary, currency exchange.

6. What can go wrong?

Contract fuel providers cannot control the fuel providers at various destinations, even though they’ve made the fuel uplift arrangements. This is because a 3rd party is scheduling the fuel uplift, and you may face first-come-first-served situations or find that fueling priority is given to scheduled commercial carriers. Your contract fuel provider, however, should be able to assist when such situations do arise.

7. Additional information

Please see our fuel checklist that allows operators to view what information a contract fuel provider requires to arrange aviation fuel for your trip, and also allows you to compare fuel prices among different providers.

Conclusion

To ensure best fuel uplift results, look at locations where your contract fuel provider has contracts and the widest range of fuel availability. Always ensure that your fuel provider is experienced in arranging fuel at multiple locations and that fuel quotes include all charges and taxes that may be associated with your fuel uplift.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or are looking for a contract fuel provider, contact me at victoriamatso@univ-wea.com.

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About

Vicki Matso has nearly a decade spent working in the jet fuel industry. Vicki, who joined Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. in 2007, currently serves as Senior Fuel Sales Representative for Florida with the UVair Fuel Program. An expert in all areas of fuel operations, Vicki specializes in educating air ambulance operators about the tax exemptions in place for their flights and the exemptions available for operators flying international routes in Canada. In addition to her duties covering Florida, Vicki is also responsible for assisting with Universal Fuels, which provides jet fuel for UVair clients in the commercial, government, and military segment. Vicki currently serves on the board of the South Florida Business Aviation Association and is a member of Women in Aviation and Girls with Wings. Additionally, she is in the final year of completing her bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Lynn University and is also working on earning a private pilot’s license.

Vicki can be reached at victoriamatso@univ-wea.com.

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