JIA traffic sets record with spring break and The Players Championship

Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Mark VanLoh said the golf tournament also spurred strong merchandise sales in the main terminal.

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  • | 8:02 p.m. March 25, 2024
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Jacksonville International Airport.
Jacksonville International Airport.
Jacksonville Aviation Authority
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Passenger traffic at Jacksonville International Airport hit a record in March because of spring break travelers and The Players Championship tourism, Jacksonville Aviation Authority Chief Executive Officer Mark VanLoh said March 25.

“We had a fantastic spring break. The weather cooperated,” VanLoh said. “The Players tournament was immaculate. We couldn’t have asked for more. And just last week we had our largest and busiest week in history."

VanLoh said passenger traffic peaked March 11-17 with a record of 85,099 passengers boarding.

More than 100,000 bags were checked.

On Sunday, March 17, planes were 99.4% full.

The golf tournament was March 14-17 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. Duval County Public Schools spring break was March 18-22.

VanLoh called the surge “phenomenal.”

Mark VanLoh

“I was told by TSA that at some point they went through five PreCheck lanes operating,” he said. “So you can see how popular  PreCheck is becoming in the United States in the past few years. I’ve never heard of five lanes of precheck of ever going at one time.”

TSA PreCheck is the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited screening program that lets approved travelers pass through airport security lines faster

Despite the volume, VanLoh said average wait times were lower than last year.

“And of course everybody is checking bags, which is a nightmare for our equipment, but we were able to handle everything,” 

Asked by board Chair Michelle Barnett to clarify wait times, VanLoh said on average they didn’t exceed 17 minutes, including PreCheck passengers.

VanLoh said JIA’s new expanded TSA checkpoint efficiency also is credited with keeping wait times in check. 

It opened in November 2023 ahead of Thanksgiving and operates “near peak.”

The city approved the renovations at a cost of $14.71 million.

Balfour Beatty Construction LLC was the contractor. Jacobs Engineering Group was the civil engineer.

VanLoh said with Duval County spring break completed, he expects air traffic volume to become more normal.

“It was a very great spring break for all of us at the airport and you can see some of the crowds, some of the lines, which is good,” he said. 

VanLoh also said merchandise sales associated with The Players at the airport’s Paradies Shop in the main terminal set a record $107,000, which broke last year’s record of $100,000.

There also were 782 participants in the golf simulator of the 17th hole at Sawgrass.

“Ten people were going in for the drawing for new golf equipment,” VanLoh said, “and one person came within 2.1 feet of the hole … I think the simulator is actually harder than the actual course.”

VanLoh said the airport has rolled out a 28-question employee survey. Though it is anonymous, management will be able to “drill down by department” to learn of concerns.

He said results could come as early as May and could be presented to the board at its scheduled meeting May 20. 



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