A new fixed-based operator, Williams Jet Center, has announced plans to develop a facility at Baton Rouge Metro Airport that will include 32 private hangars, including 12 that will be owned and 20 others offered for lease, as well as a pilot’s lounge and self-serve fuel pumps.
The FBO, which is being developed by local father-and-son real estate developers Lanny and Luke Lewis, will break ground on a five-acre site at the airport in early 2020 and should be up and running by mid-year. Already, most of the 12 hangar sites offered for sale have been pre-sold, Luke Lewis says.
“We’re creating a model where members can lease their hangars long-term and have 24-hour, private access to them from Veterans Boulevard,” he says. “This will be an association, with all lease terms, grounds keeping and associates fees managed by Williams Jet Center.
Williams is the latest of several FBOs to announce expansion plans at BTR. Just last week, a New Orleans-based group announced it wants to develop a “master planned hangar community” called Regency Hangars. Like Williams, Regency Hangars will be privately owned and offered for sale or lease.
Though Regency got the Jump on Williams in announcing its plans, it’s actually not as far along in the approval and permitting process as is Williams, which has been in the works for two years.
Meanwhile, existing FBO BTR Jet, which is owned by a group of local business executives, announced in May it was expanding through the acquisition of another FBO at the airport, Executive Aviation.
At the time of the announcement, BTR Jet, which does not currently offer private hangar facilities, said it planned to invest $3 million in the construction of a new 5,000-square-foot FBO operations facility as well as three new hangars.
Who knew there was so much private aviation activity at BTR?
BTR Spokesman Jim Caldwell says the flurry of recent developments around private aviation facilities is in response to a need.
“The demand at BTR has been strong for FBO facilities/services and hangar space,” he says. “New T-Hangars, which are typically used for private aircraft, are quickly leased.”
Most of that hangar space is for smaller planes—single or twin-engine prop aircraft, he notes, not larger aircraft or jets.
Still, it’s a positive sign of growth, especially given that revenues from FBOs and private aviation fuel sales account for nearly $4 million a year at BTR, compared to $4.9 million generated from commercial airlines.
Can BTR accommodate all the new FBO space? Luke Lewis, himself a pilot, says yes.
“There is definitely a need for private hangars,” he says. “People want their own space.”