For Gainesville locals, there are a few different options to get down to South Florida. You can fill up your gas tank and drive about five to six hours; you can buy a bus ticket, usually ranging between $40 to $60 one-way taking about six hours; or do what Gainesville resident Howard Rothman did: buy a $400 one-way ticket for an hour-and-15-minute plane ride.
“I’m just going there to see family,” Rothman said. “They think I’m too old to drive.”
But when made aware of a new, cheaper flight option to South Florida coming in August, Rothman’s eyes lit up.
Starting Aug. 21, Silver Airways, a Florida-based regional airline, will begin offering non-stop flights to and from Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, according to a Twitter post from the company. One-way tickets will start at $49. The hour and a half flight will leave once a day every evening.
“Not only is it about time,” Rothman said, “it’s necessary. And they need more flights.”
Paulo Mesnik, Silver Airways’ vice president of commercial, said they see a big opportunity with a Gainesville location.
“Our models show us people that live in Gainesville, not only that attend the University [of Florida] or work there, have reason to come to South Florida,”
Mesnik said, “When you look at the economics, we are able to offer direct flights at a price that is very competitive. So, it makes a lot of sense to us.”
Erin Porter, public relations manager for GNV, said both the airport staff and Gainesville locals are very excited.
“People are really excited,” Porter said, “especially the students. It’s great. It’s kind of like when I was a student [at UF] back in the day. It was a different ball game.”
Mesnik said these early, low prices will rise slightly, and seats will fill up fast. He recommends buying tickets well in advance.
He is also hopeful the airline will add more flights per day and more routes to and from Gainesville.