Southwest to offer nonstop flights from JIA to Chicago's Midway airport
March 5, 2013
Drew Dixon

A needed boost in airline flights will be coming to Jacksonville International Airport.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority announced Monday that Southwest Airlines will begin nonstop service from JIA to Chicago’s Midway Airport this year. The new flights by Southwest won’t begin until Sept 29, but the route will go from Jacksonville at 4:50 p.m. and arrive in Chicago about 6:30 p.m. The daily flight from Midway to JIA will run from 12:10 p.m. to 3:25 p.m.

The announcement comes as JIA was losing flights at the facility. Over the past five years, the number of flights departing from Jacksonville International Airport has slumped by 19 percent. In January, the airport averaged 81 daily departures, according to a Times-Union report Feb. 21.

The down turn in flights at JIA is also costly to fliers. Fewer flight choices and more expensive tickets add up for travelers. The average price for round-trip flights from Jacksonville International Airport was $359 in the third quarter of 2012, compared to $311 for the same period in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics. That 15 percent increase is the largest of Florida’s seven busiest airports.

Jacksonville Aviation Authority Interim Marketing Director Barbara Halverstadt said the agency is relieved at the increased flights by Southwest.

“We are thankful Southwest added this additional nonstop flight,” Halverstadt said in a news release Monday. “Not only does it give business and leisure travelers another option when flying to Chicago, but it also offers stronger competition, which often leads to lower fares.”

While the new Southwest flights are the first to fly in to Midway from JIA, American and United Airlines are already offering nonstop flights to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport from JIA.