Five Simple Questions To Help With Your Next Fuel Search

“Success is the sum of details.” This quote from Harvey Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, could have just as easily originated in any business aviation flight operation around the world. That said, one detail you rarely have to worry about is fuel. It’s standardized, regulated and tested to the point where most can’t tell one batch of Jet A from another. If that’s not enough, you’re likely working with a fuel provider/contractor tasked with ensuring you’re getting a competitive price, working with trusted providers and receiving consolidated/simplified billing.

But what about those rare occasions when you travel to an unfamiliar place or your travel needs are growing faster than your fuel supplier’s network? Suddenly, trust, ease of scheduling, uneventful uplift and simplified billing (much less payment terms or the form payment takes) are things you no longer can take for granted.  

Here are five questions to help ensure that if you do have to find your own fuel, you can also find the right pricing and professionals as well:

  1. Can I even get fuel? Confirming fuel is available at the field or even a preferred (but not contracted) supplier isn’t enough. You may find all the fuel on a remote field is already reserved. Or that a larger field has fuel, and will try to squeeze you in the cue between a steady flow of reserved fuel customers and scheduled airline fuel commitments. And, if you’re flying to the Super Bowl, Olympics or the Caribbean during the holidays your “reserving fuel” degree of difficulty just tripled. Be sure to reserve your fuel and get the amount of fuel and your arrival time confirmed in writing.
  2. What am I paying for? While most of us couldn’t break down the price of fuel for our cars, we aren’t paying tens of thousand of dollars each time we pull up to the pump, either. It pays to know the cost of a pound of jet fuel, and a breakout of those costs. In addition to the fuel cost itself, what are the airport fees, government taxes, environmental/CO2 taxes, and VAT (value added tax) that may be incurred? Make sure your fuel budget is going toward fuel and not government coffers.
  3. Is “tankering” an option? The taxes and fees on fuel can vary widely between bordering countries. So, even though fuel costs are low right now, prices are still all over the map. For example, if you’re flying from the U.S. to Germany, you might consider a fuel stop in Ireland or Iceland instead of filling up when you land. The savings in fees and taxes could prove to be worth it—even if it means a minor scheduling inconvenience. If you have to uplift fuel in a country you know is expensive, find out what the “minimum uplift” requirements are before you leave. Maybe all you need is enough fuel to get you safely to the next country.
  4. How am I paying for it? Ideally, you want things like they are now, billed in a timely manner. You should ask for that with new fuel providers as well. You may be asked to fill out a credit app, but that’s nothing compared to the peace of mind billing will bring. Things get much more complex if they won’t bill you. Credit cards max out their limits with big fuel purchases and many fuel providers don’t like to pay the processing fees on large purchases like fuel. If you’re asked to pay upfront or bring cash with you, just say no. Though it may take some doing, seek out those fuel providers who will bill you (best option) or who will take a credit card (one you’re sure it has room for the high costs of fuel). If a fuel provider can’t meet one of those requirements, even if everything else about them is ideal, keep looking.
  5. How many other fuel providers are at my preferred destination? While competition breeds better pricing and service, you may fly to a place with only one fueler on the ramp. Don’t let the seeming monopoly stop you from digging deeper. The reason there may only be one option is that there isn’t enough business to support two. There may be a hunger for your business that isn’t obvious on the surface. Call them, make the same requests you would of any other fuel provider, and see what happens. In many cases, that call will be time well-spent.

With fuel prices the lowest they’ve been in a decade or more, there may be a part of you that’s thinking fuel just isn’t the worry that it used to be. You’re right. But the values of time, professional service and paying a fair market price are timeless. And, fuel’s not going to be this cheap forever.

If researching your own fuel options isn’t a detail you have time to oversee, Jeppesen can help. Our International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) has partnered with World Fuel, the world’s largest buyer of jet fuel, to ensure customers can get the best fuel prices (though billions of dollars of buying power) and have access to the largest and most trusted fuel network on the planet. Learn more by clicking here or calling (866) JET-FUEL.


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