The Visibility of LUX
Prime positioning at Aéroport Montréal Saint-Hubert
September 18, 2023
Brought to you by by LUX FBO
Formula One race weekend was big business for LUX FBO. Corporate jets from around the world descended on Montréal for one of the most popular races on the F1 calendar. This year, approximately 60 jets arrived at the LUX FBO at Montréal/Saint Hubert Airport (YHU), carrying celebrities and some of the biggest names in Formula One racing. Traffic was double of what it was in 2022.
François-Luc Jutras, General Manager of LUX FBO, attributes the year-over-year bump in F1 business to two things: The return business of satisfied customers and the spring closure of Trudeau International Airport’s (YUL) north runway for rehabilitative work, limiting slot availability and sending spill over business to YHU. For an FBO that sees value in visibility, slot restrictions at neighbouring YUL are LUX’s calling card.
“We were able to pick up a few more jets at the last minute,” Jutras says. “It was all very good exposure for us.” Indeed, unexpected arrivals has become something of a house specialty for LUX, which is better equipped to handle last-minute customers than many competing FBOs because everything is in-house, including catering.
“We have a fully integrated business model,” Jutras points out. “Our customers have high expectations, so we need to have full ownership of the customer experience.” LUX is the only FBO in the region to provide a private, onsite de-icing service. This is a significant plus for clients who fly during harsh Montréal winters.
In addition to the customer experience, LUX is a favoured FBO for pilots flying into the Montréal area, who prefer to take advantage of the spacious executive lounge and enjoy chef-prepared meals over grabbing a rental and driving off-site for the day.
In 2021, LUX took service integration to the next level, sharing a 60,000-square-foot maintenance hangar with WAAS Aerospace, a Quebec-based MRO. The partnership enables the FBO to offer hangaring services for clients who want to overnight or base their jets at YHU year-round. The MRO provides basic or heavy maintenance on large aircraft, including Dash 8s and some 737 models.
“That was a bit of business that we couldn’t get before because a lot of business-jet owners prefer hangar space rather than parking their aircraft outside, even in the summer,” Jutras says. “And now we can offer heavy maintenance, which isn’t readily available at a lot of FBOs.”
LUX FBO has also entered into strategic partnerships with member-based private aviation associations, such as the Corporate Aircraft Association (CAA) and trip support company Universal Weather and Aviation, to attract new business. These partnerships present a direct pipeline to new markets. “The larger charter companies already know we exist,” says Pierre Tremblay, Manager of the recently opened sales department. “We need to get our name out in markets that have not considered YHU as alternative to crowded YUL, or even know where it is located. By creating these kinds of partnerships and offering an aggressive pricing package to members, it is helping to drive new business.”
New business is helping LUX to solidify its place as one of North America’s best FBOs. The AIN 2023 FBO Survey ranked LUX in the top 10 per cent of FBOs in the Americas based on customer feedback; up from top 20 per cent in 2022 and the only Canadian FBO to make the list. The FBO operator has opened a second location at Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) and is considering further expansion.
LUX has always offered an industry-leading value proposition that includes discounted fuel pricing, waiving ramp fees for first-time customers and luxury hotel amenities, such as passenger greetingd by multiple staff as they step of the airplane. “When it comes to the customer, our support staff are trained to not say no,” Jutras says.
Another LUX market advantage is location. Unlike neighbouring YUL, aircraft are not stuck in a holding pattern to land or take off from YHU and the airport offers speedy ground access to downtown Montréal. “In addition to cost savings, customers are looking for more efficient onward transport,” Jutras adds. “Our detail-oriented concierge service and the location of YHU deliver on that.”
In August, YHU began work on a 226,000 square-foot passenger terminal along with serveral airport partners. The terminal, which is scheduled to open in 2025, will ultimately have capacity of four mission passengers. An airport hotel is also planned.
“It is going to help put Saint Hubert on the map,” Tremblay insists. “We are going to get some added business because of the exposure of the new terminal. The more people are talking about the airport and the more they see it, the better it is for us.” The Canadian business aircraft community will be seeing more of YHU in 2024, as LUX plays host to the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s (CBAA) annual general meeting and conference. “CBAA is going to be a great opportunity to showcase our FBO and the airport,” Tremblay adds.
LUX’s customer base is evenly split between Canada and the U.S. with a lot of Challengers and long-range Globals taking up positions on the spacious ramp, which is large enough to support seven Boeing 737-400s, in addition to hangar space. “We will never be full,” Jutras notes, “because we have a few backup positions around the airport.” The FBO is seeing an increase in flights coming up from Mexico, and a real growth area continues to be professional sports charters. Air Canada Jetz, iAero Airways (formerly Swift Air) and Sun Country Airlines use LUX for visiting National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) teams playing the Canadiens and CF Montréal. “These are big birds,” Jutras says. “Boeing 737s and A319s. They help to keep us on our game.”
- Gateway Aviation Growth
- Pilots racing in WWII era planes die in midair collision shortly after first second finish in Reno