Jacksonville International Airport prepares to increase travel

With a growing population in Jacksonville and increasing airline demand for more flights, now is the time for the expansion of Jacksonville International Airport with a new $300 million concourse.

Air travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels and, thanks to federal government funding, Jacksonville Airport is one of a growing number of airport upgrade facilities. Many of them are decades old and not designed to provide the security put in place in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. As part of the expansion plans in Jacksonville, the TSA will add new screening technology that will allow them to screen passengers at a much faster rate.

Plans to add a third concourse to Jacksonville allow the airport to attract more flights and destinations that were suspended when the pandemic began. And while the airport would like to attract more West Coast flights, a big sign of growth is Breeze Airways’ announcement in March 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-cost nonstop route to New York’s Westchester Airport, located just north of Manhattan.

Breeze, which was founded by the same man who launched JetBlue, will fly nonstop to Columbus, New Orleans, Providence, Norfolk, Hartford, Westchester and Las Vegas by September. Most routes start in late May to early June.

After:Breeze Airways adds nonstop flights to New York from Jacksonville in June

Expansion:Jacksonville International Airport adds new concourse with 6 gates, more security checkpoints as air travel increases

State-of-the-art airports help make travel less stressful

Until recently, I hadn’t traveled by plane for almost a year. But doing layovers in four different cities reminded me of the big difference between a seriously dated airport and state-of-the-art airports that include art, a yoga room and even emergency stations for pets.

Travel is stressful. But whether for business or personal reasons, most travelers are looking for the same provisions, like access to charging stations for personal devices, a variety of shops and restaurants, and comfortable spaces to wait. They basically look for amenities that take the anxiety out of travel, including easy security checks and convenient baggage checks.

Ambience is also important, and the interior architecture of Jacksonville’s new six-door concourse will feature a modern design that matches the two existing concourses, with lots of glass and natural light. Scheduled to be completed in 2025, the addition will also feature a huge wall-sized window that overlooks the runways at the end of the concourse.

The expansion isn’t just good for visitors and travelers to Jacksonville. It’s also great for the community. Jacksonville is the 12th largest city in the country and jobs are a big factor. At the height of construction, the hall is expected to generate 250 to 300 jobs for workers in various construction trades.

Greg Willis, head of marketing and public relations at the airport, said the airport currently has 20 gates and the six additional gates will allow for potential airline growth. At this time, at certain times of the day, all airport gates are completely occupied.

Jacksonville is a central, mid-sized airport that ranks among customer review services including JD Power and ACI-ASQ. The Airport Service Quality program, considered the world’s leading program for measuring and benchmarking the customer experience at airports, provides member airports with tools and expertise to measure and improve passenger satisfaction, business performance and the quality of airport services.

In March 2020, JIA was recognized as the best airport by size and region, ranking among the top three airports in North America serving between 5 and 15 million passengers per year. The award was for 2019, a year of record passenger traffic in Jacksonville.

“An airport is a gateway to the community and as Jacksonville grows, our airport must grow with it,” Willis said.

Marcia Pledger is the opinion and engagement editor for the Florida Times-Union. She can be reached at [email protected]

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