Millions of dollars in renovations are underway at the Tallahassee International Airport as more travelers are staying in town to catch their flights.
June’s passenger count was more than 12 percent higher than traffic a year ago. Airport leaders credit the city’s non-stop service to Washington, DC and the economy for the increase.
More travelers are taking advantage of TSA Pre-Check to zip through security checkpoints, and the airport will soon have a lounge area for those waiting for arriving flights.
Recent accolades may be helping, too. The airport earned recognition by the Florida Department of Transportation as Commercial Airport of the Year. It also received a perfect score in a safety inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Tallahassee offers three carriers: American, Delta, and Silver Airways. A push to add low-cost carrier JetBlue fizzled last year.
WFSU’s Gina Jordan sat down with David Pollard, TLH Interim Director of Aviation, to talk about airport improvements and ask some nagging questions from frequent flyers.
POLLARD: We’re looking to do what we can to affect the high air fares that we often times hear about. That’s an ongoing struggle, and we want to do all that we can to lower our costs and ask that our airlines pass those cost savings on to our travelers.
WFSU: Have they (airlines) communicated anything about why Tallahassee is one of those airports that it just seems to be a bit more expensive to leave?
POLLARD: I think serving as the capital of the state of Florida certainly has something to do with it…It’s a matter of where we’re at and the type of activity that’s coming in and out of the community…It’s something that we’re constantly working towards and seeing what we can do to affect that.
WFSU: What about our international status? How long has it been since we went from regional to international?
POLLARD: We started with the renaming of the airport and then the rebranding, which was done a couple of years ago. Now we’ll be working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to navigate through the various requirements that they have to bring U.S. Customs to the airport at a future date that’s yet to be determined.
WFSU: What are some of the things that you guys are attempting to do to lure more carriers and even just to bring in more routes with the carriers we have?
POLLARD: We’ve enlisted the help of a consultant that specializes in air service development, and we’re really getting into the pure raw data of the habits of some of the travelers and why they’re going to surrounding airports. We understand it’s competitive airfare.