JIA Flight Numbers Down, But Officials Optimistic

As the airport is looking at expansion, the aviation industry is facing contraction, with the number of carriers and the number of flights all trending downward in 2005.

"It will be more inviting and appealing and convenient for passengers," said Molle, the airport executive heading up the construction.

The new concourses will be 100 feet wide (the current ones are less than 70 at their widest points), providing room for moving walkways, more waiting room and more businesses -- changes that the Aviation Authority thinks customers will embrace.

"I think it's going to go over very, very well," said Director of Airport Properties Larry Aldrich, who is responsible for luring both airlines and other businesses to the airport. "People want to get in line and get through security. Then they have all kinds of time to relax and look about. The concession program is going to provide a high level of services to the passengers."

Such services are a hallmark of modern airports, said Petree, the Embry-Riddle professor -- and they can benefit airport management even more than they do customers.

"Airports look more and more like malls," he said, "and that's not an accident."

Partially to offset the drop in revenue from air carriers, airports are getting into the real estate management business, he said, catering to the captive audience they have waiting for flights.

"That's very valuable space," he said. "People have more time on their hands when in airports. The big growth in commercial airports these days is in the share of revenue they get from retail operations."

timothy.gibbons@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4103


Next month, the eight airlines that serve Jacksonville will have an average of 726 flights per week, with 73,000 seats. Last February, the average week saw 777 flights with 84,000 seats. Airport officials say, hwever, that belt-tightening within the industry will be good for the airport in the long run.

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