Wisconsin Allows Aviation Fuel Price Wars

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court says aviation fuel sellers are allowed to charge whatever they want to for avgas and Jet-A because it does not consider either to be "motor vehicle fuel." The ruling settled a three-year court battle in which Orion Flight Services had alleged that Basler Flight Service had violated state law by selling fuel below cost in a price war at Wittman Field in Oshkosh in 2002. But the Supreme Court ruled that aircraft fuel is not covered by the Wisconsin Unfair Sales Act, which says motor vehicle fuel prices must include a profit margin of up to 9.18 percent. Basler enjoyed a monopoly on fuel sales at Wittman for almost 45 years. In 2002, Winnebago County allowed Orion to set up a truck-based fuel business (Basler has trucks and self-serve fixed pumps) at the airport. Orion set its prices lower than Basler's, which ignited a price war that drove prices from $2.59 a gallon to a low of $1.59 a gallon. Orion complained to state officials that Basler was violating the pricing provisions and the legal battle ensued from there. It was finally settled in a May 19 judgment.