Sep 19, 2018
By Matthew Farina
Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) will soon lose one airline while gaining another.
Silver Airways said Wednesday it will stop service to JIA on Nov. 4. The Fort Lauderdale-based airline — noted for its nonstop flights to Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, which began in 2013 as a seasonal service — said a decline in their Jacksonville market has forced them to reconsider their routes.
“Unfortunately, certain flights in Jacksonville are not operating at an adequate level in current market conditions,” said Silver Airways Spokeswoman Misty Stoller. “We will continue to evaluate and keep an eye on Jacksonville for possible opportunities to resume service in the future.”
Stoller said Silver Airways will give full refunds to passengers with tickets on flights scheduled after Nov. 4. The airline has also added flights to Fort Lauderdale, Pensacola, Birmingham, Ala., and Nassau, Bahamas.
Despite this loss, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) is hopeful Silver’s competitors will expand their services to offset its absence.
“It’s always difficult to lose an airline,” says JAA Community Relations Administrator Debbie Jones. “But they do what’s in the best interest of their business and we hope other airlines will step in and fill the gap.”
One organization is already taking advantage of Silver’s decision. Spirit Airlines announced Wednesday it will offer direct flights from JIA to Chicago and Detroit beginning Dec. 20.
“We are so proud to be expanding service once again right here in the Sunshine State to my hometown of Jacksonville,” said Laurie Villa, Spirit Airlines’ senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “The Jacksonville area offers beautiful warm beaches, amazing golf courses, lively festivals, sporting events, and family friendly attractions that will no doubt be a draw for our guests.”
Jacksonville will mark Spirit’s 69th destination in its growing network — joining Spirit’s other Florida destinations of Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
Those flying in-and-out of Jacksonville will certainly benefit from Spirit’s presence, according to JAA Chief Executive Officer Steve Grossman. “It is with great excitement and anticipation that we welcome Spirit Airlines to Northeast Florida,” he said in a statement. “Their arrival means more low fares for the Jacksonville community.”
Spirit’s low fares aren’t its only hallmark. The airline continues to improve its on-time performance and guest satisfaction. Recent Department of Transportation data shows Spirit Airline is among the top carriers for on-time performance and baggage handling.