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Tallahassee International Airport Improvements Continue as Facility Awaits Word from JetBlue

Tom Flanigan

There is plenty of positive news to report from Tallahassee International Airport.

But there’s also a piece of less-than-good news. Aviation Director Chris Curry had been hoping this week to announce new air service from Elite Airways. Called the “Legislative Express”, Curry said that would have meant more flights to Vero Beach and Sarasota during the lawmaking session.

“The conversation is not over,” he insisted. “However, they have had some delays throughout their entire network. It was certainly our goal to get them started prior to the legislative session. Now we may need to reconsider many different things about the service.”

Of course the more pressing issue concerns the city’s long campaign to attract discount carrier Jet Blue to Tallahassee’s airport. But Curry said even without new airlines or more flights, the airport’s business is up

. “When you compare October/November 2016 numbers to October/November 2015, we’re up more than 10% or about 12,000 passengers,” he noted.

Why is that so? Curry thinks the perception may be slowly changing that Tallahassee’s airport is just too expensive to fly out of.

“With all the things that have been happening, terminal improvements, transition from regional to international - the airlines have up-gauged some of their equipment from smaller aircraft to larger - that when people look at Tallahassee International Airport, they do find that some prices are reasonable.”

And he said the terminal improvements continue. They include rebuilding the former Sam Adams bar into a comfortable waiting lounge, upgraded seating in the main concourse and the expansion of the security screening area to add an express line for pre-screened passengers. As to the big question concerning about Tallahassee’s efforts to bring JetBlue to town?

“We’ve been told we should get an answer by the end of March,” Curry said, adding that should that answer be yes, there could be significant long-term impact on the airport.

“I don’t think that it really affects a lot of the existing carriers that we have because their customers are loyal to their brand. But I think now we would bring some new customers and our boundary would stretch well beyond the 90-mile radius that we draw around the airport, so I think it would be a welcome addition if we get them.”

In the meantime, Curry said he’s keeping up the pressure. Next week he’ll be a passenger out of his own airport as he flies to Las Vegas where he’ll meet with representatives from six air lines – including JetBlue – telling them all that Tallahassee is a wonderful place for them to land.