Gainesville Regional Airport’s new Dallas/Fort Worth flight flew nearly 24,000 passengers to the Lone Star route in its first six months of operations.
Since American Airlines first launched the GNV-to-DFW flights in March 2019, departures totaled about 11,000 passengers on the route with more than 12,000 arrivals. Although a route’s performance is usually judged on a yearly basis, increased traffic indicates that the added destination has done well, according to Erin Porter, a Gainesville airport spokeswoman.
Gainesville airport numbers show an overall boarding increase of 18% for all airline traffic from August 2018 to August 2019. The annual numbers reflect a 6.5% increase of passengers through the Gainesville airport from the previous year, Porter said.
Antar Riley, American Airline’s station manager, noticed more foot traffic at the Gainesville airport since the addition of the new Dallas route. Riley said the new route has not negatively affected other routes. The air carrier’s flights to Miami and Charlotte, North Carolina, have flown over 40,000 passengers to and from the airport since August 2018.
“Some would think it would take away traffic from the other flights,” Riley said, “But it really hasn’t, and that’s a good thing.”
Gainesville airport’s two airlines, Delta and American, showed an increase of 30,000 passengers from August 2018 to August 2019. Each company flew about 200,000 passengers this year period, with an airport total of 488,117 passengers on arriving and departing flights.
David Williams, an Ocala resident, flew home from El Paso, Texas via the Dallas flight on Wednesday.
Williams said he preferred the new route because it was cheaper, and the Gainesville airport is more accessible from his home.
“I flew into Orlando last week, I got back at midnight, and then I had to drive all the way home,” Williams said, “The drive from Gainesville is a lot easier.” Gainesville is about 45 minutes from Ocala, compared to Orlando, which is an hour and a half away.
American Airlines spokeswoman Nichelle Tait said many people fly to Dallas because it is one of the largest hubs in the world. Tait noted that with over 900 flights a day, the Dallas route makes that possible.
“It’s a lot of opportunities for customers to fly anywhere they want to in the world,” Tait said. She also noted the number of customers flying the Dallas route has also increased with the start of the fall season.
Joe Mohan, Vice President of Alliances for American Airlines, said airlines and passengers benefit from strategic partnerships. An alliance allows for airlines to work together to fly customers internationally, Mohan said. This means that a customer can fly on American Airlines to a hub like Dallas and connect with another airline to arrive at their final destination.
“An alliance makes everything more streamlined,” Mohan said, “Capacity grows and so do more connections.”
Gainsville Regional Airport passengers can reach 55 countries and 343 destinations from the airport’s four international hubs — Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte and Dallas.
“While we are a small community, our regional airport still offers service around the world,” Porter said.
And, with airport passenger demand up nearly 12% over the past two years, and the airport is continuing to expand.
The airport received a $12.1 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to build two new gates and expand the terminal.
The 15,000 square foot expansion is already under construction. It is expected to be completed by winter 2021, according to Porter.