LUX, Canada’s Rising Star FBO
LUX Ground Services provides a new FBO value proposition in Montréal – By David Carr
You do not break into the competitive Montréal FBO market without bringing something new to the table. Such was the challenge facing LUX Ground Services, the region’s newest FBO, occupying a former Royal Canadian Air Force hangar refitted to purpose at Montréal’s conveniently positioned Saint-Hubert Airport (YHU).
As experienced air operators, LUX ownership set out to develop an FBO with exceptional services that met the high standards of their colleagues. LUX is Montréal’s largest full-service FBO, with clientele ranging from single-engine Cessna’s to Boeing and Airbus commercial jets. Their ramp is large enough to support up to seven Boeing 737-400s, and has hangar space for two more. The FBO provides on-site aircraft maintenance, private de-icing and passenger terminal amenities including a spacious VIP lounge, mini-business centre and in-house catering.
The mission is to build the brand to become Canada’s best FBO. They are off to a flying start. Since launching in April 2019, LUX has soared to one of the top three FBOs in Quebec, top five in Canada and was recently voted best FBO in Quebec in Wings magazine’s annual survey.
“We’re all fighting for the same customers,” says François-Luc Jutras, LUX FBO director. “We need to always be one step ahead.” That means not only competing with neighbouring FBO’s at YHU, but against the behemoth up the road. Trudeau International Airport (YUL), which houses established FBO brands with North American networks, still attracts the lion’s share of corporate traffic despite increased congestion at Canada’s third busiest airport, and YHU’s faster access to downtown Montréal and local attractions such as Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, home to the popular Canadian Grand Prix, which is an early Christmas for FBO operators.
“Some crews and customers have their habits and have been going to the same FBO for years. We need to break them of that,” says Jutras. “We need the business jets to first choose YHU over YUL, and bring them to LUX.” To do so, the FBO has ripped a page from the retail sector’s handbook and offered “free samples”. Recently LUX began temporarily providing free basic ramp services. A method to help drum up dwindling business during the Covid-19 slump, but also to establish longer-term brand recognition and value. The promotion builds on an industry-leading value proposition that includes, waiving ramp fees for newcomers, the lowest fuel prices in the region and luxury hotel amenities such as passengers greeted by multiple staff as they step off the airplane.
“We need to be aggressive with our offer,” Jutras points out. “We need clients to try our facility and unique services. When a customer tries us for the first time, they always come back.”
Supporting LUX’s ambition to stand out among the crowd is a cast of energetic staff members with backgrounds in both aviation and the hospitality industry, who are trained to spot and respond to emerging market trends. Practices are carefully monitored, services can be adjusted quickly and fresh ideas, and new ways of doing things are always encouraged. “We’ve only been around for 16 months,” Jutras says. “There is still very much a start-up mindset. That works to our advantage.”
YHU is also upping its game. The primary runway has been extended and can support the largest 737 and Airbus A220/A320 aircraft, and the airport is leveraging its superior ground links. YHU has accepted specialized flights such as professional sports charters, and LUX has the facilities to comfortably handle these types of operations.
As Canada gradually emerges from the Covid-19 slump, the market is looking up for corporate aviation. Business jets are returning and the sector could experience a bump as commercial high flyers who have considered making the transition to private airplanes take the plunge. This is good news for LUX Ground Services. In less than two years, LUX has built a loyal customer base and has the infrastructure, first class amenities and service culture to meet growing demand.