With a growing population in Jacksonville and increasing airline demand for more flights, the timing is now right for expansion at the Jacksonville International Airport with a new $ 300 million concourse.
Flight travel is making a return to pre-pandemic levels, and with funding from the federal government, Jacksonville’s airport is among a growing number of airports upgrading facilities. Many of them are decades old and not designed to accommodate security that was put in place following the Sept. 11 attacks. As part of expansion plans in Jacksonville, TSA will be adding new screening technology that allows them to screen passengers at a much faster rate.
Plans to add a third concourse in Jacksonville enable the airport to attract more flights and destinations that were put on hold when the pandemic started. And while the airport would like to attract more West coast flights, a great sign for growth is Breeze Airways March announcement to offer flights to seven of Jacksonville’s largest unserved markets.
But before the first flight could take off in mid-May, Breeze Airways added an eighth low fare nonstop route to New York City’s Westchester Airport, located just north of Manhattan.
Breeze, which was founded by the same man who started JetBlue, will fly non-stop to Columbus, New Orleans, Providence, Norfolk, Hartford, Westchester, and Las Vegas by September. Most routes start in late May to early June.
More:Breeze Airways adding nonstop flights to New York from Jacksonville in June
Expansion:Jacksonville International Airport adding new concourse with 6 gates, more security screening as air travel ramps up
State-of-the-art airports help make travel less stressful
Until recently, I hadn’t traveled on a plane in nearly a year. But by experiencing layovers in four different cities, I was reminded of the vast difference between a seriously dated airport and state-of-the-art airports that include art, a yoga room, and even pet relief stations.
Travel is stressful. But whether it’s for business or personal reasons, most travelers are seeking the same provisions, like access to charging stations for personal devices, a variety of shops and restaurants, and comfortable spaces to wait. They’re basically seeking amenities that take the anxiety aspect away from travel, including easy security screenings and convenient baggage checks.
The ambiance is also important, and interior architecture at Jacksonville’s new six-gate concourse will offer a modern design that matches the two existing concourses, featuring lots of glass and natural light. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the addition will also feature an enormous wall-sized window that overlooks runways at the end of the concourse.
Expansion is not just beneficial for visitors and Jacksonville travelers. It’s also great for the community. Jacksonville is the 12th largest city in the country and jobs are a driving factor. At the peak of construction, the concourse is expected to generate 250 to 300 jobs for workers in various construction trades.
Greg Willis, a marketing and public relations manager at the airport, said the airport currently has 20 gates, and the additional six gates will allow for potential airline growth. Right now, at certain times of the day, all of the airport’s gates are completely occupied.
Jacksonville is a medium hub airport that ranks highly among customer rating services including JD Power and ACI-ASQ. The Airport Service Quality program, considered the world’s leading airport customer experience measurement and benchmarking program, offers member airports tools and expertise to measure and improve passenger satisfaction, business performance, and airport service quality.
In March 2020, JIA was recognized for Best Airport by Size and Region, ranking among the top three airports in North America serving between 5 million and 15 million passengers annually. The award was for 2019, a year of record-breaking passenger traffic in Jacksonville.
“An airport is a gateway to the community and as Jacksonville grows, our airport needs to grow along with it,” Willis said.
Marcia Pledger is the Opinion and Engagement Editor for the Florida Times-Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.