Jacksonville targets Puerto Rico flights; all leading US carriers have links to hubs

Image: Stained glass window
The headless giant looks down on a full concourse: In September Jacksonville reported its first growth in 17 months; +0.2%. The airport is hopeful that its first regular international service will be to its newly-designated “Sister City” – San Juan in Puerto Rico.
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Located in the north-east corner of Florida, Jacksonville is the western-most point on the US East Coast, which contributes to the fact that it is statistically the least likely place for a hurricane on the East or Gulf Coasts. The city’s airport served six million passengers in 2008, ranking it seventh among Florida’s airports behind Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.

Traffic at the airport peaked in 2007 with 6.3 million passengers and in 2009, passenger numbers in the first nine months are down 7.4%, which is better than the national average. In September, the airport was able to report its first growth in 17 months when passenger numbers were up 0.2% versus September 2008.

Chart: 00-08 traffic
Source: JAA

Links to all major East Coast hubs

All the major US carriers and the country’s three leading LCCs offer flights to Jacksonville.

Airline Airports/hubs served from JAX (weekly departures)
AirTran Atlanta (35)
American Dallas/Ft. Worth (27), Miami (29), St. Louis (14)
Continental Cleveland (5), Newark (28), Gulfport (3), Houston Bush (39)
Delta/Northwest Atlanta (79), Cincinnati (13), Detroit (14), New York LaGuardia (17), Memphis (20), Minneapolis/St. Paul (7)
jetBlue Boston (6), New York JFK (19)
Southwest Baltimore/Washington (20), Birmingham (7), Fort Lauderdale (32), Houston Hobby (7), Las Vegas (7), Nashville (20), Norfolk (13), Philadelphia (7), Tampa (19)
United Chicago O’Hare (21), Washington Dulles (23)
US Airways Charlotte (45), Washington Reagan (27), Philadelphia (19)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 9 November 2009

Delta/Northwest operates the most daily flights, although Southwest flies to more destinations non-stop. According to the airport’s statistical report for September, these two carriers transported well over half of all passengers at the airport.

Chart: Top 12 routes
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 9 November 2009

Atlanta, less than 300 miles away, is the busiest route served by both AirTran and Delta. The only other route currently served by two carriers is Philadelphia where Southwest and US Airways both have services. With an urban population of some 1.5 million people, Jacksonville generates around half of its passengers from its own catchment area. Transfer traffic makes up only a small proportion of the airport’s demand as Jacksonville is a perfect example of a spoke on a hub-and-spoke network.

Image: Plane
The presence of all three of the major US LCCs (AirTran, jetBlue and Southwest) has helped to keep Jacksonville’s fares below the national average. jetBlue operates to Boston and New York JFK using mostly its smaller Embraer 190s.

Puerto Rico potentially first international route

Analysis by the airport suggests that there is sufficient demand for a regular scheduled service to San Juan in Puerto Rico. This would become the airport’s first regular international service. Only last month, Jacksonville and San Juan became official Sister Cities and each year the city holds a Puerto Rican parade which attracts more than 15,000 participants. Over 70% of the business conducted by the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) is with Puerto Rico. A US Customs and Immigration facility is located in the bowels of Concourse C ready and able to accept international passengers.

Since the beginning of 2008, the airline has gained new services from jetBlue (Boston services started on 15 March 2008) and Southwest (Las Vegas flights began on 10 May 2008). Most recently, Continental began a three times weekly service to Gulfport/Biloxi on 1 June. However, the airport has also lost service to Denver (Frontier axed a daily service at the end of May 2008) and Indianapolis (Southwest suspended flights in mid-August). American’s dropped service to Chicago O’Hare will re-start next April.

Airline fares consistently below national average

Over the last six years, average airline fares at Jacksonville have consistently been below the national average (when adjusted for sector length). The presence of AirTran, jetBlue and Southwest is a major factor in helping to keep air fares competitive.

Period Average Fare Fare Premium
All Markets
Fare Premium
Fare Premium
2004 Q1 $158 -7% -13% -2%
2005 Q1 $155 -3% -8% +1%
2006 Q1 $164 -6% -14% +0%
2007 Q1 $160 -7% -7% -7%
2008 Q1 $169 -7% -8% -6%
2009 Q1 $154 -7% -6% -7%
2009 Q2 $157 -2% -4% -1%
Source: US DOT Office of Aviation Analysis
Image: Air show
Jacksonville is home to the annual Sea & Sky Spectacular which last week saw the US Navy Blue Angels performing their legendary crowd-pleasing show.


  1. Mark Haneke says:

    Puerto Rico is a domestic market! No FIS facilities are required for flights between JAX and Puerto Rico.

  2. Mike says:

    Good to see Jacksonville Airport expanding it’s service. I’m there quite often driving passengers on my airport shuttle service. We deal mostly in Palm Beach International but I like to make my way up the coast too. For anyone looking for a ride to any Florida airport check out our website. http://www.MyShuttleService.com

  3. Our goal this year has been to reach out to JIA and the airlines in an effort to lobby for direct flights from Jacksonville and San Juan. 75% of all trade done through the Port of Jacksonville is with Puerto Rico representing a revenue of over $1 billion to the City of Jacksonville.

    Please contact us for more information at (904) 710-8679 or email me at marthacpellino@comcast.net and visit our website at http://www.prccnf.com

    Thank you.

  4. Sam says:

    1) San Juan is not an international route. How can you make such a huge error?
    2) Jacksonville has had international, scheduled service to both Toronto (Air Canada) and Freeport (Laker) in the past.

    anna.aero replies: While Puerto Rico is a “self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States” it also has its own ISO Common Country Code (PR), fields its own Olympic Team and, crucially for us aviation analysts, is designated as a separate country by OAG when reporting schedule data. In our view, therefore, any route between different countries must be considered, at least by us, as an international route.
    Air Canada did indeed (briefly) operate daily international flights from Toronto between 16 July 2001 and 30 November 2001. We understand The Laker Airways (Bahamas) services were operated as charter flights and also began in 2001 but did not last that long.

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