Austin Rametta flew to New York City last month to visit friends. The electrical engineering junior drove about 130 miles to Tampa International Airport and then flew about 1,000 miles to New York City.
Rametta, 21, said it is a pain to drive to Tampa to fly directly to New York.
But in the future, Rametta and others may be able to catch a direct flight from Gainesville.
The Gainesville Regional Airport is purusing a direct route to New York City and is conducting a survey about the proposal.
Rametta said he wants to support the proposal by taking the survey.
“I wouldn’t have to go all the way to Tampa to fly to New York,” he said. “It would be a lot easier.”
Laura Aguiar, manager of public relations and government affairs for the Gainesville airport, said the survey results will be presented to airlines that could potentially provide the direct flight.
“The challenge is convincing one of the airlines that it is economically viable,” she said. “Because if they’re not going to make money on that route, then they’re not going to do it.”
She said the survey will garner support for the direct route.
“If they want to see hard numbers and hard facts, then that’s what we need to take to them to convince them that we have a viable route,” Aguiar said.
New York City is the Gainesville airport’s second-top destination, behind Miami, which is a direct flight, Aguiar said. There are connecting flights to New York City, but direct flights would increase ticket sales, she said.
“Miami did not make our top 50 destinations until we had that direct route from American Airlines,” she said. “So we know that a direct route will help grow passenger traffic.”
Aguiar said it is important to have the business community’s support for the proposal.
“We really need to get the business people to respond to this survey because they’re the ones that will use the routes the most,” she said.
Kyle Boulia, a 20-year-old public relations sophomore, has flown to New York City more than 10 times and wants to work there eventually.
“A direct flight would be convenient,” he said. “I do have a fear of flying, but I do it anyways — whether it is local or in a bigger city.”
Aguiar said she hopes the results from the survey will help create the direct flight.
“Now we’re reaching that point with the New York City metro area that a direct route could be viable,” she said, “that we could fill a plane a day and get people to New York City.”