Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) continues its growth trend with record passenger traffic to finish calendar year 2015.
According to numbers reported by the airlines, 18,562 passengers flew out of the local airport last month. The annual total came to 217,355, more than two percent above 2014 and 892 passengers more than the previous record set in 1990 which was 216,463 enplanements.
“We have to thank our community for using their local airport more than ever this past year,” says GNV CEO Allan Penksa. “Strong growth will help the community in several ways, in garnering grant funds to expand our terminal, plus giving us a stronger case to take to airlines when we seek out new service.”
Growth in passenger traffic and growth in the business community are important factors weighed by airline route planners. The airport staff and community leaders work to pitch the area and lure new service from the airlines, just like attracting any other type of business.
“It’s really about what our market will bear. But a community with enplanements equal to population size is really doing well,” says Penksa. According to the 2010 census, Alachua County’s population is just about 250,000. “Reaching the population level will also be important to increasing our allotment of agents from the Transportation Security Administration.”
“It was really close coming into the final weeks of the year,” says Laura Aguiar, GNV Manager of Public Relations and Governmental Affairs. “We were helped out by added capacity to Charlotte over the holidays.”
American Airlines added flights over a two week period and even increased the size of the aircraft used on several of the regularly scheduled flights.
“The parking lot has really been the area where we’re feeling the growing pains,” says Facilities Manager Paul Adjan. Visitors and travelers have been parking in grass lots throughout the year.
“That’s something that used to only happen during holidays.”
GNV recently finished more than $900,000 in customer service upgrades in the parking lot in 2015. With larger planes, there have been more people exiting the lot at one time. New automated pay lanes help to expedite the process.
“The next step is designing new paved parking for our passengers,” says Penksa. “We’ll also be seeing expansion of the apron for additional plane parking this year.”