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updated: 7/20/2016 7:23 AM

Local Pilots Start Petition for Fair Fuel Prices

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  • Chicago-area pilots are protesting fuel prices at Chicago Executive Airport.  Prices are 48% higher than area airports.

    Chicago-area pilots are protesting fuel prices at Chicago Executive Airport. Prices are 48% higher than area airports.
    Courtesy of Chicago Executive Pilots Association

Steve Whitney

Local pilots and aircraft owners at Chicago Executive Airport today announced the creation of a petition to encourage the board of directors of Chicago Executive Airport to install self-serve aviation fuel on the airport.

For many years, Chicago Executive (formerly Palwaukee, PWK) Airport has been one of the few holdouts in the Chicago area, unwilling to install self-serve fueling facilities so that operators of smaller, piston-powered aircraft can refuel their own aircraft at lower prices.

"It's kind of as if your town wouldn't allow gas station to offer self-serve pumps," said Madeleine Monaco, president of the Chicago Executive Pilots Association (CEPA). "The result would be people taking their business to neighboring towns to save on gas prices. The same thing is happening at Chicago Executive."

In an effort to get the Chicago Executive Airport board to adopt self-serve fuel, CEPA has started an online petition to demonstrate support for the change. After only a day, pilots from as far away as California and South Carolina have already weighed in.

"I have family in Chicago and fly often to area airports. Fuel prices have kept me from KPWK in the past," wrote Paul Lehman of Salt Lake City, Utah.

"I love flying into KPWK but the prices are too high. I will fly elsewhere for my Chicago trips because of it," said James Schumer of Mansfield, Ohio.

High Prices for Years

Pilots, both based at PWK and visiting from elsewhere, have endured high prices at the airport for years.

"A recent analysis of 100LL aviation fuel prices in the Chicago area shows that pilots using Chicago Executive pay 48% higher prices than the median in the area," said Steve Whitney, a spokesman for the group. "And that's counting prices at the big commercial airports, O'Hare and Midway."

The high prices coincide with a significant decline in airport operations. Recently, the airport decided to decommission parking area 3 due to underutilization.

Board Meeting Wednesday -- Pilots Encouraged to Attend

Besides the petition, CEPA is encouraging members to attend the airport board meeting on Wed. July 20, at 6pm (1020 South Plant Rd, Wheeling IL) where board members are reported to be planning a vote on the issue.

"We've been working on this for years," said Madeleine Monaco, "and we're hopeful, though not confident, that they will do the right thing."