Jacksonville International Airport adding airline, losing another

Spirit offering flights to Chicago, Detroit; Silver Airways suspending service

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Travelers will soon have a new option when flying out of the Jacksonville International Airport. But while the airport on the city's Northside will be adding a low-fare airline, it will be losing service from another popular airline. 

Spirit Airlines announced Wednesday that it will offer flights at JAX to and from Chicago and Detroit, starting Dec. 20.

Laurie Villa, senior vice president of Spirit Airlines, said Jacksonville has become a popular destination for people living in the Midwest, especially through low-fare airlines like Spirit.

"Giving our guests the opportunity to travel more often and spur spontaneous travel," Villa said. 

JAX had a record-breaking number of travelers going through security checkpoints in August, and with more flights and the new airline, plans are underway to expand.

With a higher number of travelers, JAX has sped up plans to build Concourse B, add more parking spaces and get additional Transportation Security Administration scanners. Construction is expected to begin within the next three years. 

Even with a new airline, there will be some extra room. Silver Airways confirmed to News4Jax on Wednesday that it will be suspending its service at JAX on Nov. 4.

Silver Airways service at JAX included flights to Tampa and the Bahamas.

In a statement, the airline said in part:

"As with all airlines, Silver regularly reviews and makes schedule changes to best meet changing market conditions. Unfortunately, certain flights in Jacksonville are not operating at an adequate level in current market conditions. We will continue to evaluate and keep an eye on Jacksonville for possible opportunities to resume service in the future."

It raises the question: Will a similar airline such as Spirit be able to survive at JAX?

"They're addressing totally different markets and a lot of times another airline will come and fill the void to pick up those passengers going to the markets an airline may leave," said Michael Stewart, Jacksonville Aviation Authority's director of external affairs.

Silver Airways said it is providing refunds for travelers who booked flights after Nov. 4.

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