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904.741.2721

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Community Relations Administrator
904.741.2726

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Feature Stories

Jacksonville, FL Herlong Recreational Airport Rebrands FBO 8/31/2015

August 31, 2015
aero-news.net

Herlong Aviation Becomes First Coast Flight Center

Unlike at its other three airports, Jacksonville International, Cecil and JAXEX, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) is the FBO at Herlong Recreational Airport located in the western portion of Duval County, FL.

For many years, the FBO at Herlong was unofficially referred to as Herlong Aviation. To better reflect the numerous changes the FBO has made, including becoming more customer centric and business oriented, the authority determined it was time for a re-branding.
 
The First Coast Flight Center officially began doing business as Herlong’s FBO on August 22. Now with a brand identity that better reflects the FBO’s geographical location and purpose, First Coast Flight Center can now more effectively market its services to the general aviation community.

Herlong is JAA's designated GA airport.

Source: http://ow.ly/RAo3P 

Jacksonville International Airport to get new hi-tech bag screening machines 8/11/2015

Mon, Aug 10, 2015

By Roger Bull 
jacksonville.com

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is about to spend $19 million on the airport’s baggage screening system. For the passengers, that’s going to mean carrying their own bags a little further for a little while.

Jacksonville International Airport is getting six new CTX machines. Those are the ones that screen your bags after you’ve dropped them off at the ticket counter. The bags head down conveyor belts to the mini-van sized CTX (computed tomography X-ray) machines that the federal government has required since the attacks of Sept. 11.

“Think of them as giant MRI machines,” said Debbie Jones, spokeswoman for JAA.

JIA got its machines in 2002. Now they’re worn out, she said, and the airport is getting the newest models. That means construction for the new conveyor belts, etc.

Passengers won’t see any of it going on, but they will be affected. While the work is being done, they won’t be able to leave their bags at the ticket counter. Instead, they’ll have to carry them down to the end of the counter and leave them there.

Jones said that’s the permanent system in some airports.

The work is being done in two phases. Starting next month, the work will be done at the north end of the terminal – JetBlue, Silver, United and Delta – and passengers will have to tote their bags.

Six or seven months later, construction will switch to the south end – Southwest, American, US Airways and Allegiant.

The whole project will take 12 or 14 months, Jones said.

The airport screens about 4,500 bags a day. That’s down 3,100 a day since 2010, despite an increase in passengers.

“Since more airlines are charging for checked bags,” Jones said, “a lot of people are (not) checking (bags).”

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296

Source: http://ow.ly/QLPPx 

JIA upgrades will cause changes to travel routines 7/31/2015

July 30, 2015

Jensen Werley
Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville travelers can expect an update to Jacksonville International Airport; they should also prepare for a change to their travel routine.

The airport is installing a $19 million new baggage screening system, including updates to equipment and conveyer belts for checked luggage. TSA will pay for 90 percent, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority will cover the remaining 10 percent. The project should be completed in the next 12 to 14 months.

In the interim, though, temporary baggage checks will be placed near the ticket counters on the north and south side of the airport, said spokeswoman Debbie Jones. Rather than dropping off luggage at the ticket counter, guests will have to wheel their luggage over to the temporary screening station, where a TSA agent will examine it there before it is loaded onto a plane.

The upgrade comes 13 years after the JIA's current system was installed. The new equipment will feature more up-to-date software to better handle the 4,500 pieces of luggage that the airport checks each day.

“It's just come to then end of its useful life,” Jones said of its current system. “We've had it since 2002. [Upgrading] is definitely what we needed for our airport.”

Source: http://ow.ly/QkfWx

JIA plans $19M renovation for baggage system 7/29/2015

Wednesday, July 29
By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor
jaxdailyrecord.com

Travelers through Jacksonville International Airport will learn soon how a new baggage screening system will affect their travel, but it likely won’t have a major impact on convenience.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is preparing to renovate its baggage-screening and handling system in a $19 million project. The authority said the Transportation Security Administration will fund 90 percent of the project and JAA will pick up 10 percent.

The city is reviewing a building-permit application for the job by Balfour Beatty Construction at a construction cost of almost $17.4 million.

Community Relations Administrator Debbie Jones said the project is a total upgrade of the checked-bag screening equipment and conveyor equipment.

“The current machines have reached the end of their lifecycle,” she said.

The current machines were mandated by the TSA in the wake of 9/11. That system was installed in 2002 at a cost of $20 million, with half paid by state and federal grants and the rest by JAA.

About 4,500 pieces of luggage are processed daily at the airport. Jones said the new machines will handle baggage more efficiently and accommodate higher demand as airport traffic increases.

She said construction for the new system should start within the next two months and should be completed in a year to 14 months.

Jones said the authority is working through final details and coordinating the new system with the airlines on the logistics.

She said there would be a small impact in processing checked luggage into the system, but before any changes start that affect travelers, media will be given a preview to share with the public.

Source: http://ow.ly/QeLFY

Two major capital projects on the way for Jacksonville's airports 7/2/2015

Jul 1, 2015
Jensen Werley, Jacksonville Business Journal

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is planning two major capital projects and budgeting $5.2 million for the projects in the 2016 fiscal year, according to its budget.

The maintenance and warehouse facility at Jacksonville International Airport, in its final phase of funding, has been budgeted for $2.7 million. It will also get a matching amount from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The main parking plaza, which will have multiple stories, has been budgeted $2.5 million in JAA funds.

The projects are part of JAA's overall budget, which is budgeting $52 million in total operating expenses (including contingency and airline incentives), a $3.5 million increase from this fiscal year, which ends in September.

The JAA also expects to see its operating revenue jump $3.7 million to $77.7 million.

Including the two major capital projects, the authority has budgeted $29.5 million for capital projects, including $15.7 million of its own money.

The budget has been approved by the authority's board, and will next go to the Jacksonville City Council for approval.

Source: http://ow.ly/P6zXf

Despite surprising setback, Cecil Spaceport optimistic about future of launches 6/30/2015

Jun 29, 2015
Jensen Werley
Jacksonville Business Journal

It's a setback, but not a major one.

That's the mentality Jacksonville Aviation Authority has regarding last week's veto of $1.5 million for Cecil Spaceport.

“It's a setback, but not something that breaks down the spaceport plan,” Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for the JAA, said in a sit-down with the Business Journal on Monday morning.

The most necessary thing for the spaceport to be operational — the taxiway and ramp — has already begun construction and will be completed by the end of August, Stewart said.

That works for anyone who wants to temporarily use the facility, including Generation Orbit, which has an agreement to use the spaceport as testing for its horizontal launches.

But the funding requested from the state — which was originally $5 million — would go to designing and building out permanent facilities, including a hangar. They won't have to be built until a permanent tenant is found.

In the meantime, Stewart said, the JAA would “retool and go for the full amount” for the next legislative session, and try to find other sources of funding, particularly for the design stage where the $1.5 million would have been used. If a company needs a hangar, Cecil has access to temporary ones the spaceport can use.

Another reason the timing isn't a problem: Generation Orbit, the first company slated to use the spaceport, is still waiting for its operations license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Cecil Airport manager Kelly Dollarhide said the company is expected to get its approval in January.

The fact that the spaceport didn't get the funding it requested — which it did last year— was surprising, Stewart said. As recently as Saturday, before last Tuesday morning's veto, he said he had reason to believe the request would pass. The sentiment is similar to the surprise of John Crescimbeni, who spearheaded support for the St. Johns River Ferry, also vetoed from the budget.

The only response Stewart said he got from the governor's office was that the request “circumvents the due diligence and review process” of Space Florida, although he was unsure what that referred to exactly.

Steve Grossman, CEO of the JAA, told board members at Monday's meeting that many budget items were derailed because of the debate surrounding the expansion of Medicaid.

“We'll regroup and be back next year,” Grossman said. “It's a long-term process.”

He added that by the next legislative session Cecil Spaceport will be more developed.

“It's important that the apron and taxiway will be done,” he said, “so the Legislature can see this is real.”

Source: http://ow.ly/OYVUr

Manufacturers paint picture of Jacksonville growth at Paris Air Show 6/30/2015

Jun 29, 2015
Jensen Werley
Jacksonville Business Journal

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority's trip to the Paris Air Show bore some good news for the First Coast.

Among the companies that have or are eying Jacksonville for expansion projects: Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), Embraer (NYSE: ERJ) and Mitsubishi.

JAA met with about 20 clients and potential clients, JAA CEO Steve Grossman told board members Monday morning.

The meetings are an indicator there is growth potential for Jacksonville's aircraft industry.

One of the biggest meetings was with Boeing's military branch.

“We had phenomenal meetings with Boeing,” Grossman said, “who is pleased with its current operations.”

Boeing does work at Cecil Airport, and there is talk that the work could grow: The F/A-18 aircraft has to last longer than expected, which would require more of the maintenance work that already happens in Jacksonville. Grossman said that Boeing added that Cecil is well-positioned for P-8 maintenance long term.

The JAA also spoke with Boeing's commercial side.

Jacksonville had previously been a candidate for work on Boeing's 777, which went to Seattle once labor negotiations were worked out. However, while at the air show, Boeing told the JAA that Jacksonville was its preferred site had Seattle not come together.

“It bodes well for these types of projects,” Grossman said, “that we can win one.”

Source: http://ow.ly/OYV5S 

Cecil Spaceport state funding at risk 6/9/2015

June 9, 2015
Tia Mitchell (PolitiJax)
jacksonville.com

The House and Senate have been wrangling over how much to fund infrastructure improvements at the spaceport at Cecil Airport on Jacksonville's Westside, along with hundreds of other budget items still in dispute. Until this evening, the dispute was over whether to give the repurposed military base $1 million or $2 million in new funding.
 
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, surprised Cecil Spaceport supporters this evening during a budget subcommittee meeting when he said that Cecil had $2 million in unspent funding that would be carried over into the next year instead of giving the spaceport any new state dollars. Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, sprang into action and insisted that Cecil Field's existing dollars were spoken for and new money was needed.
 
That is when things got interesting. A representative from Space Florida was called to testify and told the budget committee that Cecil Spaceport had not spent its money and would not be able to do so anytime soon. Then Michael Stewart, spokesman for Jacksonville Aviation Authority that operates the spaceport, came forward and said that the money was indeed spoken for.
 
He said later that the infrastructure projects at the spaceport had moved slower than expected, but a taxiway and ramp should be completed by August and would eat up the entire $2 million in the current year's budget. Stewart said he plans to prove the existing $2 million was spent and that Cecil needs another $2 million for additional improvement, such as installing utilities and beginning to build an access road.
 
After several minutes of discussion during the budget subcommittee meeting, Chairman Latvala said he would give both sides time to come to agreement about Cecil Airport's spending prior to the next meeting. Both sides will powwow in Gibson's office Tuesday morning, and the budget subcommittee will likely reconvene sometime later in the day.
 
Latvala hastily appointed Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, to mediate the dust-up. Clemens said he hopes to help Gibson, D-Jacksonville, save Cecil Airport funding as long as the money is being spent as Stewart says.
 
"It's almost a waste of the first year dollars" if you don't give them more to continue improvements, he said.
 
This is how the sausage is made, folks. Stay tuned.



Source: http://ow.ly/O5oUt 

How Jacksonville airport is getting big by going small 5/29/2015

May 29, 2015

Jensen Werley
Jacksonville Business Journal

When Silver Airways became an independent entity 18 months ago, it knew it had to grow.

And for the Fort Lauderdale-based airline to do so, that meant getting bigger in Jacksonville.

The niche airline now offers 145 daily flights to 30 destinations — including to Pensacola and Birmingham, the only direct flights between them and Jacksonville. That’s good for the airline, but it’s also good for Jacksonville International Airport, which has seized on courting smaller airlines as a way to grow.

Adding such flights had made Jacksonville more attractive to business travelers, who don’t want to waste time waiting around for connections. And if the number of flights continues to increase, it could set the airport on a glide path to even greater success.

If that works, it could be a game changer for the city, with airport connectivity a major factor in where companies decide to locate.

Rise of the small airlines

As three of the nation’s four largest airlines — United Airways, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. — picked up major competitors over the past decade, smaller airlines began seizing more market share. With the major carriers focusing on routing travelers through their major hubs — Atlanta, JFK, LAX — direct flights to cities like Jacksonville and Tampa were cut.

“The industry today has changed dramatically through consolidation,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said, explaining how from 10 to 12 major airlines, now there are 4 to 5. “Through consolidation, airlines have shrunk. They’re pulling back routes that are marginally profitable.”

That included Jacksonville, which as a medium-sized airport, Grossman said, lost 17 percent to 18 percent of its traffic.

Small airlines filled that void, with Silver Airways, Allegiant Travel Co., Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and, to some extent, JetBlue Airways Corp. providing a less frills, lower cost option that often is the only direct flight between two cities.

As smaller airlines have come into the market, Jacksonville has seen its traffic grow, said Barbara Halverstadt, director of marketing for JAA. From May 2014 to May 2015, there was a 2.5 percent increase in the number of weekly departures from Jacksonville.

“Looking forward to a June comparison, when the new Silver Airways flights to Birmingham begin, that number changes to a 3.4 percent increase in weekly flights,” she said, adding that the jump also reflects recently started services to Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale and Pensacola.

The flights serve a variety of market segments. Allegiant offers flights for leisure travelers from the Midwest to Jacksonville, for example, while Silver tries to cater to the state’s business travelers, offering same-day flights between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, for example.

“Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in Florida,” Silver CEO Sami Teittinen said during a phone interview. “It’s critical for us.”

Jacksonville’s advantages

From the carriers’ perspectives, Jacksonville is attractive because it offers a mix of travelers.

“Jacksonville has done well for us over the years,” said Dave Clark, vice president of network planning at JetBlue. “It’s a great destination for leisure and business.”

Still, Jacksonville’s bread and butter is business travel, with 55 percent of travelers flying for business reasons.

That’s a good thing for the airport.

“We don’t have the highs and lows of tourist season,” said aviation authority spokeswoman Debbie Jones. “Other airports were hit by the recession; we were not hit as badly. The business traveler keeps us stable.”

The airport has certainly made efforts to be attractive to those travelers: It’s clean, bright, easy to navigate, parking is affordable.

It has also worked on being attractive to the airlines that serve it.

“Jacksonville has been a great partner,” said Jessica Wheeler, spokeswoman for Allegiant. “We’ve created a cost structure with a viable offer and really low fare. Jacksonville airport has done a great job coming to the table.”

Airlines select what airports to fly to based on profitability and passenger need.

To convince them that there is that demand, Grossman and the JAA act as Jacksonville’s champions when it comes to marketing the city and the airport.

Not only is the JAA going into one-on-one meetings with the airlines, but it’s also offering a marketing program that includes advertising space, billboards and even TV spots. As part of a carrier bringing its service to JAX, Halverstadt said the JAA provides complimentary promotion of its nonstop air service to the community about what travel options are available.

Part of the marketing comes down not just to promoting the airport itself but also promoting what the airport can do for the carrier.

“An airline is looking for its best shot at being successful on day one,” Grossman said. “[By offering a marketing package] we’re giving them visibility. The best way to get more nonstop flights is to fill the first nonstop flight.”

Another aspect of marketing comes down to an airline incentive program, Halverstadt said, which includes fee credits to airlines for rents, usage and landing fees, in addition to the marketing assistance for new routes.

Big players

Of course, Jacksonville’s aviation market can’t survive solely on small airlines.

“You have to create balance,” Grossman said. “You have to have the major carriers. You don’t need a lot of the cost-conscious airlines competing with the big airlines, or they’ll drive out the big carriers.”

He added that the aviation authority likes to brag that from Jacksonville a traveler can get to just about any major city in the world in one stop. To lose the big airlines means the airport would lose that connectivity. For example, if Jacksonville lost its Delta flights to Atlanta, it would be doing its travelers a major disservice for connecting to the East Coast and the Midwest.

Still, much of the new service from those small carriers, Grossman said, has come quite naturally.

“There’s a hole there,” he said, referring to when the big carriers pull out of an airport. “There’s nothing airlines like better than being the only airline in a market.”

He said, for example, when Southwest pulled out of the Fort Lauderdale-to-Jacksonville route, both JetBlue and Silver announced service within a week.

With that in mind, he said that, while the JAA is certainly trying to balance both big and small, the organization would continue seeking out the airlines that give it the most opportunities.

“Yes,” he said, “we’re seeking out small airlines more. If the big airlines are not going to add flights, we’re going to look at who is growing and who is new.”

The future

The goal for all of it, Halverstadt said, comes down to getting as many flights as the area can support.

“It all benefits the community,” she said. “The more nonstop flights, the better.”

The next step is making sure those flights take off.

Allegiant — which took her more than three years to bring to the First Coast — is already looking at Jacksonville to add more flights if its first two, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, are successful. And that could lead to even more growth.

“Once you get to half a dozen destinations, [the airlines] start basing aircraft here,” she said. “Then that’s really major.”

Source: http://ow.ly/NBGU4 

Flightstar: Not being sold, not losing contracts, but actually growing 5/14/2015

May 14, 2015
Jensen Werley
Reporter-Jacksonville Business Journal

Flightstar Aircraft Services LLC — one of the fastest-growing manufacturers on the First Coast — is soaring to new heights.

The company, once a mom-and-pop shop that now does plane maintenance and repairs for customers such as Delta and FedEx, is still in growth mode after it opened the doors to its new hangar at Cecil Airport earlier this year.

“We're getting secure work to fill that hangar,” said Chris Long, business development executive for the company. “With that comes employment of new people. We're trying to grow into the new size of the hangar.”

With so much room to grow into its additional capacity caused by the new hangar, Long said the company was even open to expanding even further, depending on the future needs of customers.

In fact, Long said the company was open to a whole slew of new opportunities.

“We're always looking for the next opportunity,” he said. “Whether it's a customer or whether it's an opportunity to develop a new line of business for us. I don't believe the company feels as if we've topped out. I don't think this is our max as of today. I believe that we want to continue to grow.”

That affirmation comes among some chatter that the company might be in talks with new partners or losing contracts. Long said neither was the case.

“Flightstar is not being sold or acquired,” he said. “We have equity partners who sit on our board, they've been here the last two to three years and are not new.”

As to the contracts, Long said it might seem like the company has less Delta work: That's because it does.

“We actually have a long-term contract with them,” he said. “They have cycles in their business. There is peak travel demand in the summer months — they traditionally have all aircraft flying during the peak period. Our maintenance for Delta goes down during the peak season, but it doesn't mean we lost the contract.”

He compared it to how FedEx and UPS aren't having maintenance done during the Christmas season when they need their planes most.

“People may interpret it as we lost the business,” he said. “That is absolutely not the case.”

In fact, he said the company recently hit a growth spurt, which is why it's looking to fill its additional capacity.

The MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) provider, which was one of the Business Journal's 50 fastest-growing private area companies by revenue last year, is poised to fill that space with employment by tapping into the skilled and trainable workforce in the area.

“There is a high demand for aviation mechanics throughout the industry — that's true across the U.S.,” Long said. “We're working to recruit and grow internally those types of mechanics.”

Long said his company was looking to steer young students interested in the aviation field into attending schools that will train them, as well as seeking out candidates from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and Florida State College at Jacksonville's aviation program.

“If we can have local talent join us, they're more invested in the community,” he said. “We want to stay [looking] in Jacksonville.”

To seek for talent here is even more ideal given the strong aviation culture of the lower Southeast.

“For MRO work in Jacksonville, there is a strong aviation presence here in Florida,” he said, adding that behind Washington, which houses Boeing, Florida has the strongest aviation industry. “Because of that and also the lower operating cost in the Southeast, it's advantageous for our type of company to locate here.”

And Flightstar shows no signs of slowing down.

“We're definitely on pace with what we had last year,” Long said. “We're hoping to exceed our revenue projections. We have growth in those projections and we're looking at achieving that for this year.”

Source: http://ow.ly/MXHc7

Public Notice for Comments: PFC Application No. 15-11-C-00-JAX 5/11/2015

NAS Jax runway project announced 4/30/2015

April 29, 2015

By MC1 (SW/AW) John Smolinski
Staff Writer
JaxAirNews

Senior leadership from Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax), Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Cecil Airport, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) held a joint press conference at Cecil Airport April 21 to describe the 11-month runway closure, repair, and temporary relocation to Cecil Airport. 
 
The press conference provided an opportunity for the media to ask questions directly to team members involved with the planning and implementing of the shutdown and shift of fixed-wing operations from NAS Jax to the former NAS Cecil Field, now known as Cecil Airport.
 
“I’m pleased to have with us today the members of the joint team who have worked and continue to work together to ensure the temporary relocation of NAS Jacksonville’s fixed-wing aircraft to Cecil Airport goes smoothly and with very little impact to the community,” said NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Howard Wanamaker.
 
“This project, that will close the main runway at NAS Jax for extensive repairs has been in the works for several years.”
 
The last comprehensive overhaul and major repair to the runways aboard NAS Jax were done in 1967, with resurfacing work being done in 1986.
 
This major improvement project includes repairing and resurfacing NAS Jax’s runways and taxiways, installing new airfield lighting and other airfield infrastructure repairs.
 
“We have already been prepping the taxiways and areas where we park the aircraft at Cecil to ensure an easy transition,” said Wanamaker. “We have also rehabbed hangars and facilities that were already here to house Patrol Wing-11, VP-30 and other squadrons.”
 
According to Wanamaker the $50-plus million project is expected to take 11 months to complete and is scheduled to begin in early June. 
 
The renovation plans were coordinated with the office of Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, city councilmen Jim Love, Stephen Joost and Doyle Carter, as well as the Cecil Airport Citizens Advisory Committee. 
 
“We do not anticipate our noise print getting larger from this shift,” said Rusty Chandler, Cecil Airport chief. “But we will see an increase in the number of operations. We currently run 100,000 operations here at Cecil in a year. From what the skipper has said, the Navy will add about 30,000 to 40,000 operations to that number.”
 
Approximately 2,100 NAS Jax personnel will work out of Cecil during a 24-hour period. There will be three shifts of 600 to 800 personnel working day, night and graveyard hours.  
 
“NAS Jax will provide buses that will transport Sailors from different locations aboard NAS Jax to Cecil Airport,” said Wanamaker. “Sailors will have the option of driving directly to Cecil Airport or parking on base and riding to Cecil by bus.”
 
Ron Tittle, FDOT representative, added that he does anticipate an increase number of cars coming through the area around the airport.
 
“We have been coordinating with our construction contractors, engineering inspectors and FDOT project managers to inform them of this increase,” said Tittle. “We have worked with the JSO, who have done a great job being able to move and being aware of changes to the traffic patterns.”
 
Currently, construction of the First Coast Expressway can be seen as drivers approach State Road 23 and 103rd Street.
 
“We’ve been discussing this construction area at the FDOT and there seems to no issues,” said Tittle. “But we will continue to reach out to our contract team in this area as well.”
 
Security and fire departments at Cecil Airport will be augmented with personnel from NAS Jax to help with the increased workload. The question of whether or not Cecil Airport will see an increase in traffic delays because of security checkpoints was raised. 
 
“We have security very similar to any other airport throughout the U.S.,” said Chandler. “This is a civilian airport, but it’s a highly secured airport. Our checkpoints limit access to people trying to get through the fence line not for those going through the normal channels through the terminals. So, we do not anticipate long wait times for travelers using civilian terminals.”
 
Press releases about the project are available at www.cnic.navy.mil/jacksonville or www.cecilairport.com. Questions about the project can be emailed to nasjaxrunway@navy.mil. For noise complaints, email noisecomplaints@cecilairport.com or call (904) 573-1611. For traffic information, visit http: www2.dot.state.fl.us/FloridaTrafficOnline or call FDOT at (850) 414-4100 or 511.

Source: http://ow.ly/Mkfw8

NAS Jacksonville will use Cecil Airport runway during repairs 4/22/2015

April 21, 2015
Larry Spruill
actionnewsjax.com

Naval Air Station Jacksonville is preparing to temporarily shut down its runway and use Cecil Airport for operation.

Officials said it's necessary to make needed repairs. The move comes less than a year after damage was caused by a sewer pipe on the runway.

The $50 million plan is to add a 1,000-foot overrun, concrete end caps, new asphalt and lighting. But in order to do that, they will have to shut down the main runway temporarily and move to Cecil Airport.

 Rusty Chandler with Cecil Airport said they are ready for the change.

 “For us, we're dealing with extra people in the parking lot, driving down our runways, extra aircraft, bringing in extra personnel,” Chandler said.

 The project will start in June and will be finished in summer 2017.

Source:  http://ow.ly/LYwk7 

Repairs send NAS Jax operations to Cecil Airport; $50 million runway repair project will move fixed-wing flights for 11 months 4/22/2015

Apr 21 2015
Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter
news4jax.com

All fix-winged flight operations at Naval Air Station Jacksonville will be moved to Cecil Airport for nearly a year, starting in June.

The Navy is making the change because of runway repairs at NAS Jax. Along with the aircraft, a large amount of personnel and traffic from NAS Jax will be headed to Cecil Airport as well.

The runways at NAS Jax have not been overhauled since 1967, and there are problems with them.

Capt. Howard Wanamaker, base commander at NAS Jax, said the runways need major attention and the $50 million project will get them ready for new planes and new service.

“This major project involves resurfacing, repairing and improving NAS Jacksonville runways, lighting and airfield infrastructure,” Wanamaker said.


About 30,000 planes a year fly in and out of NAS Jax. All those flights will shift to Cecil Airport during the repairs. Helicopter operations will remain at NAS Jax.

Work at Jacksonville’s largest employer, the Fleet Readiness Center -- known to many in the area as the Navy Depot -- will continue. But some of the planes coming in for work might be towed down 103rd Street to Cecil Airport.

Traffic could be the biggest impact for people living near the Cecil Commerce Center, as personnel head from NAS Jax to Cecil Airport.


“It's going to be approximately 600 to 800 people commuting,” Wanamaker said. “We will also have a bus schedule, a bus route.”

People in the area have been told about the coming changes and most seem to be OK with the idea, because the traffic will be temporary.

“It's not really going to bother me. It's going to be a little bit more noise, but it's not going to affect (me),” said William Nicely, who lives near Cecil Airport. “The road traffic is going to be a little bit heavier coming home.”

Noise should not be a major factor because of the new P-8 squadrons.

“The P-8 aircraft that is going to be operating here from NAS Jax (uses) new technology (and is a) very quiet aircraft,” said Rusty Chandler of Cecil Airport. “We don’t anticipate our noise print getting any larger than it has.”

Residents with questions about the runway project can call 904-542-5588 or email nasjaxrunway@navy.mil. Aircraft noise complaints can be made at 904-573-1611 or emailed to noisecomplaints@cecilairport.com. Traffic issues can be reported to the Florida Department of Transportation at 850-414-4100 or to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-2190. Traffic information is available at http://www2.dot.state.fl.us/FloridaTrafficOnline. 


Source:  http://ow.ly/LYuS3 

Navy, JAA, others talk about NAS Jax runway repairs; Cecil Airport relocation 4/22/2015

Apr 21, 2015
Clifford Davis
jacksonville.com

A massive overhaul to the fixed-wing runways at Jacksonville Naval Air Station will begin in June at a cost of $50 million, with an expected completion date of May 2016, the base’s commander, Capt. Howard Wanamaker said Tuesday.
 
In the meantime, all fixed-wing aircraft and their maintenance crews, will operate out of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s Cecil Airport.
 
The temporary relocation will bring about 2,100 additional sailors and civilians to Cecil daily. Although the 2,100 will be broken up in to three different shifts, Wanamaker said.
 
All helicopter squadrons, which have their own landing pad, will remain at the base.
 
“This project to repair and close the runway and relocate to Cecil Airport has been in the works for several years,” Wanamaker said. “The last comprehensive overhaul and major repair to the runways were done in 1967, the year I was born.
 
“This major improvement project involves resurfacing, repairing and improving NAS Jax runways, lighting and airfield infrastructure.”
 
In recent years, the base has obtained a number of cutting-edge aircraft and platforms including the P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, the MH-60R helicopter and a MQ-4C Triton drone training center.
 
All help to ensure the air station remains viable in the years ahead and avoids the fate that Cecil suffered when the Navy closed it in 1999.
 
However, runway work was badly needed.
 
In September, a failed sewer line created a 3-foot deep sinkhole that opened up on the main runway.
 
In addition, with the arrival of the larger P-8As came the need for more infrastructure improvements for the base that is now the East Coast hub for the aircraft.
 
“We’ve already been prepping the taxiways and the areas where we park the aircraft,” Wanamaker said. “We’ve also rehabbed hangars and the facilities that were already here to house Wing 11, VP-30 and other air crew.”
 
One thing can definitely be expected: An increase in jet noise over the area that should bring back memories — good or bad — for longtime residents.
 
“The number of flight ops will increase here,” Wanamaker said. “We’re at approximately 30,000 to 40,000 flight operations per year at NAS Jacksonville right now.
 
“You can expect that increase here.”
 
People who live and work in the area won’t be subjected to any additional security measures to access their normal routes, according to Cecil Airport chief Rusty Chandler.
 
Military bases have security gates set up outside them to prevent unauthorized access to the entire base. At Cecil, the only part of the complex that will require military access is the portion already fenced in for civilian planes at the base.
 
The Navy will provide more security and fire personnel to the airport, however.
 
To help lighten the traffic load, the Navy will provide buses for some of the temporary commuters, Wanamaker said.
 
The Florida Department of Transportation’s Ron Tittle did concede things will be busier.
 
“We do anticipate an increased number of cars,” Tittle said. “Some of that area through that construction zone where 103rd meets Florida 23 will be tightened a little more.”
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION
 
— For official press releases, visit cnic.navy.mil/jacksonville or cecilairport.com
— For project questions or to sign up for email alerts concerning the project, email nasjaxrunway@navy.mil or call (904) 542-5588
— For noise complaints, email noisecomplaints@cecilairport.com or call (904) 573-1611
— For FDOT, call (850) 414-4100 or dial 511
— To contact JSO about the project, call (904) 630-2190
 
Clifford Davis: (904) 359-4103

Source: http://ow.ly/LYtgx

Silver Airways launches new service at Pensacola International Airport 4/10/2015

April 9, 2015
Special to the News Journal
Pensacola News Journal

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward joined representatives from Silver Airways and Visit Pensacola on Thursday at Pensacola International Airport as Silver launched new service between Pensacola and Jacksonville International Airport with connecting service to Fort Lauderdale.

"Pensacola is excited to grow our relationship with Silver Airways and to serve more destinations than any other airport in the region," Mayor Ashton Hayward said. "This new service connects Pensacola with two new destinations in Florida, and dozens of others through Silver's codeshare agreements. Travelers can now book flights to Pensacola through airlines such as JetBlue."

Silver Airways' non-stop flights between Jacksonville and Pensacola will operate Monday through Friday. With the addition of the Jacksonville service, Pensacola International Airport now offers non-stop service to 12 international hubs.

"As the airline of choice for Florida and the Bahamas, we are thrilled to be providing this important link between Jacksonville and Pensacola, and offering travelers the convenience and time savings of flying over driving," said Jamie Kogutek, Silver Airways vice president of network and schedule planning.

In addition to the direct connections to Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale, Silver Airways offers customers the ease and convenience of seamless booking, ticketing and baggage handling with connections to dozens of destinations outside of Florida that are available via the airline's codeshare agreements and interline ticketing partnerships. Members of United's MileagePlus and JetBlue's TrueBlue customer loyalty programs can also earn frequent flyer awards for travel throughout Silver's Florida network.

To celebrate the new service, Silver is offering introductory fares from $49 (one way, including taxes and fees, terms and conditions apply) between Jacksonville and Pensacola through 10:59 pm April 14, for travel between April 16 and June 26. For complete details, reservations and to receive email updates on Silver's special offers, visit silverairways.com.

Source:  http://ow.ly/LscaT 

Silver Airways adds Pensacola-Jacksonville service 4/10/2015

April 9, 2015
From staff reports
City of Pensacola

Silver Airways added service from Pensacola to Jacksonville today.
 
Silver Airways’ nonstop flights between Jacksonville and Pensacola will operate Monday through Friday. With the addition of the Jacksonville service, Pensacola International Airport now offers nonstop service to 12 international hubs.
 
“This new service connects Pensacola with two new destinations in Florida, and dozens of others through Silver’s codeshare agreements,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward in a news release. “Travelers can now book flights to Pensacola through airlines such as JetBlue.”
 
“Silver Airways’ increased presence in our market means the welcome growth of intra-state air travel between Jacksonville and other Florida destinations,” said Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) CEO Steve Grossman. “The new Pensacola service also links two cities with strong military connections.”
 
To celebrate the new service, Silver is offering introductory fares from $49 (one way, including taxes and fees, terms and conditions apply) between Jacksonville and Pensacola through 11:59 pm EST on April 14, 2015, for travel between April 16 and June 26.
 
For details, reservations and to receive email updates on Silver’s special offers, visit silverairways.com.

Source: http://ow.ly/LsbDW

Jacksonville Aviation Authority fiberoptic project to lay backbone for airport IT 3/31/2015

Mar 26, 2015
Jensen Werley
Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

A Jacksonville Aviation Authority project to install fiberoptics for data and communication should have its first phase, which runs from the JAA administration building to the terminal, completed in April.

The project — which costs about $2.1 million — is funded largely by passenger facility charges. Only 10 percent of the funding will come from JAA cash.

Phases II and III should be completed in July and October of this year.

“It lays the foundation for future upgrades to our IT infrastructure,” said CEO Steve Grossman. “It reduces our opportunity to fail.”

The total design cost for all three phases is $130,000 — $117,000 of which comes from passenger facility chargers. The construction for all phases is just over $2 million. Passenger facility charges will cover about $1.8 million of that cost.

Source: http://ow.ly/L1CRR

Jacksonville Aviation Authority requesting another $2M for spaceport infrastructure 3/31/2015

Mar 25, 2015
Jensen Werley
Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority has requested about $2 million in state grants to support Cecil Spaceport infrastructure.

Those funds would support utilities and roads to increase access to the site, said spokesman Michael Stewart.

The spaceport already received $2 million in the last legislative session for a taxiway and ramp space, he said. However, because those funds were not approved as recurring, the aviation authority has to lobby for this second phase.

“We actually wanted something close to $5 million,” he said. “We're hoping to convince them to give us something north of $2 million.”

He said state Sens. Audrey Gibson and Aaron Bean and Rep. Lake Ray had been promoting the aviation authority in the house and senate.

“They're carrying water for us on the legislative side,” he said. “They're doing a great job.”

CEO Steve Grossman said the funding will depend on other legislative issues, but he remains positive.

“We're mildly optimistic,” he said, “even though it's a heavy lift.”

Source: http://ow.ly/L1Cr8

Lead Letter: Airport receives high honor for customer service 3/2/2015

Feb 27, 2015
Letters from Readers
jacksonville.com

In its 2014 customer survey, Airports Council International — North America ranked Jacksonville International Airport as North America’s third best airport in its annual Airport Service Quality Awards — the best placement JAX has achieved since it began participating in the survey in 2009. 

As chairman of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority board, I’d like to personally applaud all of the employees at JAX, including JAA staff, TSA, airline and concession employees, for their hard work and dedication to providing exceptional customer service to everyone who passes through the airport. 

We all should be very proud of our airport and its employees who continuously strive to make Northeast Florida a great place to live, work and visit. 

As an airport that has a proven, award-winning record for high-quality service, we’re ensuring that visitors receive a stellar first and last impression of our region when they travel through our airport. 

I would also like to thank our local community and the traveling public for their continued strong support of JAX. 

The growth and success of JAX and the rest of our airport system has a direct impact on the local business community and the region’s ability to attract and retain new employers. A strong aviation system also leads to the type of economic growth and development that allows our region to capitalize on an increasingly global marketplace. 

Make no mistake: Jacksonville’s aviation infrastructure is a critical economic engine. The Florida Department of Transportation reported in 2014 that JAA’s four airport system generates more than $3 billion in annual economic activity, including more than 30,000 jobs.
 
So please join me in congratulating the men and women who make Jacksonville International Airport one of the best airports in North America. 

Frank Mackesy, chairman, Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board of Directors

Source: http://ow.ly/JP4QN

As NAS Jax plans move to Cecil Airport, JAA prepares with traffic improvements 2/24/2015

Feb 24, 2015
Jensen Werley, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Preparations are well underway at Cecil Airport, which will get a busy new tenant this summer: The U.S. Navy.

As Naval Air Station Jacksonville plans to improve its runway, taxiway and airfield lighting, staff and aircraft will be relocated to Cecil Airport, where a support detachment can operate.

The lease agreement between the Navy and Cecil is for at least one year, with a six month option that will likely be used, said Steve Grossman, CEO of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, at a recent board meeting.

So far, 4,000 employees, contractors and personnel have been badged for the facility.

"Cecil could well be in the 10 busiest airports for that year," Grossman said.

About 1 million square feet of ramp space is being leased by the Navy, said Rusty Chandler, executive director at Cecil Airport. Five vacant buildings will be leased from Cecil itself and the Navy is looking at leasing other buildings from existing tenants. Although all of its hangars are already being leased, the Navy is in talks with leasing a hangar from a tenant and will possibly bring in a mobile hangar, Chandler said.

One of the major changes being made is adding drive lanes, stop signs and more vehicle control to the facility to prevent any disruption of naval aircraft.

"We want to control vehicle traffic so it doesn't mess up Navy air traffic," Chandler said. "Now it won't be as wide open and we can keep vehicles corralled."

Traffic in the area will increase overall, Chandler said, which means more Jacksonville Sheriff's Office presence to monitor traffic flow on the public side and not disrupt tenants' activity.

Minor improvements, like repairing roofs and doing some painting, are already underway at Cecil. Other modifications, like preparing for a different theory of operation on the airside, were also made.

The air traffic control tower will begin operating 24 hours a day, rather than closing at 10 p.m. Chandler said he does not expect too much noise pollution, as several of the Navy fixed-wing aircraft coming to the area fly relatively quietly. Still, the aviation authority is working with and educating the community on the move.

Improvements to Naval Air Station Jacksonville will begin in June, and should take about 13 months, according to a statement from the air station. The last major runway overhaul was in 1967, and a concrete repair was done in 1986.

Source: http://ow.ly/JBc6j 

Traffic expected to takeoff at Cecil Airport 2/24/2015

February 23, 2015
Jacob Long, First Coast News

People on Jacksonville's Westside might want to start bracing themselves for an influx of traffic.

Beginning in June, an unknown number of military airplanes are temporarily moving from Naval Air Station Jacksonville to Cecil Airport.

The U.S. Navy is leasing one million square feet of existing space at the Westside airport while it renovates its main runway at NAS JAX for the first time in decades.

It is expected the project will take at least a year to complete.

That means all the sailors, contractors, civilian staff and family members who typically commute to the NAS JAX will now be making their way to Cecil.

During a regularly scheduled board meeting of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority on Monday morning, CEO Steve Grossman provided an update on the transition process.

"We are really benefiting the Navy tremendously because if Cecil was not available, they'd have to relocate those squadrons to other bases across the country," Grossman said.

But, that doesn't mean there still won't be challenges.

"You never really know when people start coming to Cecil how they're really going to get there and how much congestion there might be," he said.

Grossman said the number one concern right now is successfully managing an increase in traffic.

He said that should be aided by existing infrastructure. "The roadways around Cecil are not very congested right now, so we think we have the capacity to handle it."

Grossman said an estimated 4,000 people currently work at Cecil.

An additional 4,000 from NAS JAX have been given special clearance to the airport during the transition period.

Grossman said the aviation authority is working with the Navy and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on plans to handle extra people, vehicles and security.

"It's really unknown how many people will be accessing Cecil on any given day, but we do have contingency plans. We will have staff and JSO will have officers out there to help facilitate traffic," he said.

Grossman praised the teamwork that's gone into the planning process over the last several months.

He said the community surrounding Cecil has also been extremely supportive. "One of the really great things about Cecil is how supportive people out there have been of all of our efforts, particularly with economic development."

The Navy has not publicly released the types of planes that are moving and how many.

Source: http://ow.ly/JzZin 

JIA ranks third best airport in service quality for North America 2/23/2015

Feb 20, 2015
Jensen Werley, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville International Airport was ranked the third best airport in North America by the Airports Council International for their Airport Service Quality awards.

The award was based on surveys of passengers passing through the airport

The top airports in North America were Indianapolis, Tampa, Jacksonville, Sacramento and Ottawa.

Other categories include best airport less than 2 million passengers by region, best airport by size and most improved.

To determine winners, the Airports Council International surveyed passengers at the gate on their experience at 300 airports throughout the world, according to a statement. The awards represent passenger views on 34 service indicators.

"Airports are more than simply points of departure and arrival," said Angela Gittens, director general of the council, in a statement. "They are complex businesses in their own right. As such, a focus on serving the passenger has become increasingly important to ensuring success. In the fast-changing landscape of worldwide aviation, [Airport Service Quality] is the key to understanding how to increase passenger satisfaction and improve business performance. At the end of the day, good business acumen comes down to a simple equation: better service, improved traffic and a healthier bottom line."

In 2012 and 2013, Jacksonville was ranked fifth.

Source: http://ow.ly/JvTTt 

Laser focused on leisure: Allegiant begins flights to Jacksonville 2/17/2015

Feb 12, 2015
Jensen Werley Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Those that see Jacksonville as a vacation paradise just got a vote of confidence.

The first flight to Jacksonville from Allegiant Travel Company (NASDAQ: ALGT) landed from Cincinnati at Jacksonville International Airport today, and flights to and from Pittsburgh begin tomorrow.

The 15-year-old airline company, headquartered in Las Vegas, specializes in departing from underserved cities nonstop to vacation destinations, said spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler. The airline has over 40 routes to Las Vegas and Tampa and more than 50 to Orlando, she said.

"We are all about leisure markets," said Wheeler, who added that her airline also only flies non-stop, with flights from each city about twice a week to provide low fare for travelers looking to vacation.

"Florida is a huge vacation market," she said, "and Jacksonville seemed like a logical addition to that choice of destination. Jacksonville completed that Northeaster beaches option of destination."

She said Jacksonville had been on its radar for a long time.

"We've been looking at the general area for a while," she said. "It's typically a drive market. Based on history, the Northeast [Florida region] is a very popular destination for midwest states looking for affordable beach vacations. Many are traveling that way by ver long car ride, so we're excited to start flights from Cincinnati and Pittsburgh."

Debbie Jones, spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, said it took about three years for the deal to come together.

Jones said the Allegiant flights would provide additional benefits for the airport's leisure travelers. Although the airport is known for its business travel clientele, about 40 percent of fliers are leisure travelers.

"Any time we can make Jacksonville a destination," she said, "and promote it as a destination is a good thing. We have golf courses, beaches. After all, the weather is acceptable all year long."

Allegiant is beginning introductory one-way base fares from Cincinnati for $66 and fares from Pittsburg for $77. The average price for one-way base flights for the airline is between $87 and 99, Wheeler said. Each plane of its 70-vessel fleet sits about 160 passengers.

Part of what keeps Allegiant low-cost is its ala carte model, she said.

"For the super low maintenance traveler who just has a backpack in front underneath the seat and don't' care where they sit, they can fly for $66," Wheeler said. "We charge for bags, seat assignments, if you want to have a Coke on the plane. We want to offer customers a choice. Not every customer needs two bags and a bunch of amenities. We really believe in offering customers a menu of options to create a vacation that fits their needs."

With the start of these flights, it's possible the airline might add more flights to Jacksonville if these two are successful. "Our motto is 'never say never,'" Wheeler said

With the additional flights, the growing company seems to be taking off for a small airline.

"We're really not so small anymore," she said. "We serve a niche that no other carrier is really paying attention to. We're laser-focused on leisure travel."

Source: http://ow.ly/J0bo3 

Jacksonville Airport Offering New Routes As Passenger Traffic Increases 2/17/2015

February 13, 2015
By Jessica Palombo
WJCT.org

Today is the first flight on a new route from Jacksonville International Airport to Pittsburgh. The twice-weekly flight is one of two new offerings from Allegiant Air. Its other one goes to Cincinnati.
 
Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokesman Michael Stewart says the new flights reflect the highest level of passenger traffic the airport has seen since 2007.
 
"As the economy has gotten stronger, we’re seeing some more air traffic out of Jacksonville, and that’s a great thing for both the business and leisure traveler, giving more options," he said, "and when there’s more competition, it also helps drive down ticket prices.”
 
In addition to the new Allegiant Air routes, Jacksonville’s main airport is also offering increased routes to in-state destinations like Fort Lauderdale, as well as the return of vacation-destination routes to the Bahamas.
 
Stewart says each of the last 11 months has brought more passengers than the previous one. 

Source:  http://ow.ly/Jd3l0 

Jacksonville Spaceport Heading Toward 2016 Target Launch Date 2/17/2015

February 16, 2015
By Jessica Palombo
WJCT.org

An airport on the Southwest side of Jacksonville is readying itself for a different kind of flight. Cecil Spaceport has completed some of its first upgrades to get ready for trips to outer space.
 
Aviation officials say Cecil Spaceport’s target launch date is some time next year. That’s when a horizontal-launching spacecraft fitted with a rocket on its belly is first expected to take off to put small satellites in earth’s orbit.
 
Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokesman Michael Stewart says the spaceport is competing with others, like ones in Virginia and California, for a piece of a growing private space travel industry. 

“Space exploration is coming back as the economy gets stronger, and we hope that Florida, and particularly Cecil Spaceport, will be a part of that," he said. 
 
Stewart says planners originally envisioned space tourism taking off at Cecil Spaceport, and it’s still something Jacksonville would like to court. But in the near future, the small satellites will likely be the only passengers. The satellite launching service will be run through a contract with a company called Generation Orbit, he says. 
 
A spacecraft runway and taxiways are already complete. 

Source: http://ow.ly/Jd09Y 

Naval Air Station Jacksonville planes will move to Cecil Airport during renovations 2/5/2015

Feb 5, 2015
By Clark Fouraker/First Coast News

The Navy will move its planes from Naval Air Station Jacksonville to Cecil Airport in June while the primary runway at NAS Jax is renovated, according to Times-Union News partner First Coast News.
 
“They’ve done a lot of thinking and planning about this,” said Russ Stalvey, who serves on the Cecil Airport Advisory Committee.
 
Stalvey’s house and farm are directly in the path of planes taking off at Cecil. He’s not worried about increased noise in his neighborhood once the planes start taking off from Cecil.
 
“They have to do some of the parking of some of the aircraft on one of the runways which is not used very much,” Stalvey said.
 
The planes can’t stay at NAS Jacksonville because the base is renovating it’s primary runway. In September of last year, the runway was repaired after a massive hole broke open in the cement.
 
Documents obtained by First Coast News estimate the runway and a new LED lighting system will take about 13 months to install.
 
“The scheduled repair and improvements is necessary to meet Navy Air Operations Safety Criteria and to ensure compliance with FAA airfield regulations,” said NAS Jax spokeswoman Miriam Gallet.
 
“At this point it’s can’t be pro on con. It’s going to happen,” said Bill Lewis.
 
Lewis serves on the Argyle Area Civic Council and lives 3.5 miles from the Cecil Airport gate.
 
With more people and more planes, security and traffic at the base will increase.
 
The Navy, however, is not releasing how many planes and how many people the temporary move will impact.
 
“JAA does have security that they will likely beef up as well as bring in additional security to keep the people out there safe,” Stalvey said.
 
The Navy says they have a big campaign that will start in April to advise residents on the Westside of any traffic changes or new security protocols. The planes will officially relocate from NAS to Cecil Airport in June.

Source: http://ow.ly/IziT6

New DoubleTree focuses on business travelers at Jacksonville airport 1/29/2015

Jan 29, 2015

Jensen Werley
Reporter-Jacksonville Business Journal

Having a national brand operate a hotel at Jacksonville International Airport will be a boon to business travelers passing through the area, airport officials hope.

The longtime independent hotel on airport property has become a DoubleTree by Hilton.

The 201-room hotel's amenities include a fitness center, 24-hour business center, shuttle service to the airport and 11,000 square feet of function space, according to a statement provided by the hotel. The hotel is just 200 yards from the main terminal at Jacksonville International Airport.

"Business travelers and business are more apt to use that in conjunction with their travel," said Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

This will be the second DoubleTree in Jacksonville and will employ about 100 people.

"As one of the fastest growing hotel brands in the upscale, full service hotel category, expanding our offering in key business and leisure markets like Jacksonville is a priority for DoubleTree by Hilton," John Greenleaf, global head of the brand, said in a statement.

Stewart said he expects the relationship to be a mutually beneficial one, where the hotel will have access to business travelers who utilize Jacksonville International Airport.

In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, Stewart said it is also useful to have a hotel nearby to provide a comfortable place for stranded passengers.

Stewart said the hotel was closed for about four or five months while it was being renovated.

Source: http://ow.ly/IaKS6 

Jacksonville International Airport still trying to overcome decline in flights, passengers Recession, airline consolidation caused many mid-size airports to lose flights in recent years 1/26/2015

Jan 24, 2015
By Richard Webner
jacksonville.com

The check-in counters at Jacksonville International Airport have illustrated the turmoil in the airline industry over the past decade.
 
When Delta Air Lines fused with Northwest Airlines in 2008, so did their counters. Same with United Airlines and Continental Airlines, which merged in 2010, and Southwest Airlines and AirTran, in 2012. Some airlines left when they cut flights to Jacksonville, and a newborn airline, Silver Airways, has moved in.
 
As the airport’s check-in area has been transformed, so has its air service. Passenger traffic at Jacksonville International is still below where it was before the recession, despite a gain in the past year. Like many other medium-size airports, it was hit by a whirlwind of economic forces in recent years, including the recession, the high cost of oil and the consolidation of airlines, which has lost it some flights and thinned its crowds of passengers.
 
During the recession, passenger traffic at Jacksonville International fell from 6.3 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009, according to data from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, a government agency that owns and manages the airport. And it has dropped more since then: In 2014, 5.3 million passengers passed through its terminal.
 
The airport has added several new flights in the past decade, including ones to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati that are set to begin in February and another to Pensacola that will take off in March. But it has lost routes to Cleveland; Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Norfolk, Va.; and Indianapolis, and others have become less frequent. In December, the airport averaged 90 departures per day, down from 96 during that month in 2010 and 120 in 2007.
 
But Jacksonville International hasn’t been hurt as badly as many other medium-size airports, according to FAA data, airport officials and analysts of the aviation industry.
 
“Jacksonville doesn’t seem that bad,” said Sarah Stock, who analyzes the aviation industry for ICF International, a consulting firm. “They’re down a little bit, but not nearly as bad as some other airports of their size.”
 
COMPETITIVE INDUSTRY
 
About three years ago, Jacksonville International began offering incentives to airlines to entice them to bring more flights to the airport, said Steve Grossman, executive director of the aviation authority. When an airline adds a flight, it receives money to market the route and a waiver of fees it would otherwise pay to the airport. Last year, incentives cost the aviation authority about $600,000.
 
Incentives have become common among airports competing for new flights. Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and even the behemoth Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have their own programs.
 
“Airlines are looking to serve markets that will make them the most money. They don’t really care what city it’s in, they just want to make the most money,” Grossman said. “If you don’t offer those, and other airports do, it will work against you.”
 
Incentives aren’t the only tool at the airport’s disposal. Every year, it publicizes its nonstop flights on billboards and in print and radio ads in an attempt to attract passengers. Airport leaders also meet with major airlines to persuade them to add flights. They’ve been pushing for routes to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; a West Coast flight is “the key,” Grossman said.
 
In its competition with other airports, Jacksonville International has advantages and disadvantages, analysts said. It has plenty of business passengers — “business traffic is the staple of our airport,” Grossman said — but fewer tourists than many other major Florida airports.
 
That can be a curse and a blessing. Grossman pointed out that Jacksonville International isn’t hurt as badly when an economic slowdown causes Americans to forgo vacations.
 
But the lack of tourists means that Jacksonville International has fewer routes — and higher fares — than cities like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly, a trade publication. In the second quarter of 2014, Jacksonville’s average fare was $389, Orlando’s was $309 and Fort Lauderdale’s was $300, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 
“Jacksonville is kind of caught in between — it doesn’t have that international marketing cache in terms of a destination, but it’s not a big originating market,” Kaplan said, referring to the size of its population.
 
Because Jacksonville isn’t a hub, it has fewer routes but a wider range of airlines than a medium-size hub would have, Stock said. The airport also benefits from being relatively far from competing airports. Some Jacksonville residents will drive two hours or more to Orlando to board nonstop international flights, but the numbers are fewer than in a part of the country with a higher density of airports, such as the Boston area, she said.
 
“One of the things that impacts small and medium hub airports is, ‘What are the alternative airports?’ With Jacksonville, the way it’s placed, it’s hard to leak to too many other airports,” she said.
 
A STORMY TIME
 
The economic malaise that followed the recession is partly to blame for the decline in passenger traffic at Jacksonville International in recent years, analysts said. A large part of the decline was caused by mergers that have rocked the airline industry in recent years.
 
When the airlines consolidated and eliminated some of their hubs, many of their routes became obsolete, Kaplan said. That’s why Jacksonville lost its route to Memphis after the merger of Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines in 2008, and its route to Cleveland after the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines in 2010, he said.
 
“In a more fragmented airline industry, those Cleveland and Memphis flights were necessary because those airlines, which no longer exist, needed flights to their hubs to connect passengers onward,” he said.
 
“Once Delta and Northwest merged, all of a sudden Delta doesn’t really need those Memphis flights anymore.”
 
Between 2010 and 2013, the number of passengers boarding planes at Jacksonville International fell by 7.5 percent. But many other mid-size airports saw declines: 4.7 percent in Cleveland, 32 percent in Milwaukee, 29 percent in Cincinnati, 3.9 percent in West Palm Beach and 14.9 percent in Tucson, according to FAA data.
 
“Obviously, any time your passenger traffic goes down it’s a concern, but it didn’t reflect anything specific to Jacksonville,” Grossman said.
 
Some data suggests that Jacksonville airport is on an upswing. From 2013 to 2014, the airport’s passenger traffic rose from 5.1 million to almost 5.3 million, according to data from the aviation authority. It averaged 90 departures per day in December, up from 83 during that month in 2013.
 
The recovering economy has helped turn things around for airports like Jacksonville International, analysts said. If the economy keeps improving, and the price of oil stays low, airlines could continue to add flights.
 
“It’s not going to be all of a sudden all this crazy new service, but it would be putting back the marginal flights that have been trimmed,” Kaplan said.
 
Jacksonville International has a long-standing plan to add a new wing, “Concourse B.” A model near one of the airport’s food courts shows it branching out between Concourse A and Concourse C, with 15 bridges to connect planes to their gates. The plan will move forward if the airport needs more capacity, spokeswoman Debbie Jones said.
 
For his part, Grossman is optimistic about getting flights to the West Coast, as well as routes to Central America and the Caribbean. He’s also talking with airlines about bringing back routes to Birmingham and Norfolk.
 
“And who knows? With the opening in Cuba, we’ll see,” he said.
 
Richard Webner: 904-359-4370

Source: http://ow.ly/HXg9c

Jacksonville International Airport getting flights to Pensacola 1/20/2015

Mon, Jan 19, 2015
By Richard Webner 
jacksonville.com

Silver Airways will run flights back and forth between Jacksonville and Pensacola once a day from Monday through Friday

Silver Airways will begin flights between Jacksonville International Airport and Pensacola International Airport on March 19, according to a prepared statement from the company.
 
The flights will go back and forth between the cities once a day from Monday through Friday, according to the statement.
 
The route is one of several that has been added to Jacksonville International in recent years. 

Allegiant Air announced last year that in February it will begin flights between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, while Southwest Airlines has started a route to Chicago Midway International Airport.
 
But Jacksonville International has also lost a few destinations, including a Delta Air Lines flight to Memphis and Southwest flights to Birmingham, Ala. and Norfolk, Va. A JetBlue Airways flight that once ran to San Juan, Puerto Rico, is no longer listed on the airport’s website.
 
Steve Crandall, owner of Discount Travel Brokerage Services, said the Pensacola flight was a good addition to the airport. “It’s not just Jacksonville and Pensacola — people are going to use it to get to Mobile, Alabama, and Gulfport,” he said.
 
Silver Airways, based in Fort Lauderdale, already runs flights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Marsh Harbour Airport in the Bahamas. 

The airline is offering an introductory fare of $69 for a one-way flight between Jacksonville and Pensacola. Its flights between Jacksonville and other Florida cities cost from $62 to $130 one-way.
 
Silver Airways specializes in flights between Florida cities, including Orlando, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Key West. It also offers routes to airports in the Bahamas and between cities in the mid-Atlantic region, including Washington, D.C., Morgantown, W.Va., and Johnstown, Pa.
 
On Monday, the airline also announced new flights between Panama City and Orlando and Tampa. In recent months, the airline has added more flights to the Bahamas. The airline is intent on expanding its presence in Florida, said Misty Pinson, the company’s director of public relations.
 
“What we’re looking to do, and what we have been doing for the past year, is expanding that network, and Jacksonville is obviously an important part of that network,” she said.
 
Silver Airways was founded in 2011 and broke away from United Airlines to become an independent airline in June 2013. It has cut back some of its service routes since it was founded: It once ran flights to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, New York, Ohio and Montana, according to its website.
 
Richard Webner: 904-359-4370

Source: http://ow.ly/HEl26


Press Releases

American Airlines to Fly Nonstop between Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and New York’s LaGuardia Airport 7/7/2015

July 7, 2015

American Airlines will begin twice-daily nonstop service from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) beginning December 17. 

The new route is now available for bookings. American will operate an E170 aircraft on the route. The E170 aircraft is a two-class aircraft with 69 seats.  

Departure Airport    Departure Time    Arrival Airport      Arrival Time
JAX7:45 amLGA10:05 am
JAX2:30 pmLGA4:49 pm
LGA11:20 amJAX1:56 pm
LGA6:00 pmJAX8:36 pm

“Multiple daily flights to LaGuardia should make this new service attractive to Northeast Florida’s business community,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said. “It also means more choices when flying to New York.”

Delta Airlines also has nonstop service between JAX and LaGuardia. To book your flight, visit American’s website at www.aa.com.

 
 
 
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