Gainesville airport's push will continue for flight to LaGuardia

Source: Douglas Green

Source: Douglas Green

By Carla Vianna | The Gainesville Sun

Gainesville Regional Airport is pushing ahead for a direct flight to New York's LaGuardia airport, despite a discouraging response from one airline.

A few months ago, the airport created the Travel Bank initiative, encouraging frequent fliers to pledge the amount of money they would spend annually on flights from Gainesville to New York City to serve as an incentive for an airline to consider offering direct service. Travelers would have individual accounts that they would draw from to pay for tickets.

The number of Gainesville airport travelers to fly to New York increased about 16 percent in the past year, said airport spokeswoman Laura Aguiar.

“This is something that our community has definitely asked for,” she said. “The trick to New York is that gate space is filled and packed to capacity. Every city in the country wants direct routes to New York.”

A meeting with Delta Air Lines on Oct. 1 has put the Travel Bank initiative on hold, she said.

“While we were hoping for a promising response on the possibility of adding a New York City route, we learned that it's not how Delta officials would handle increased New York City traffic even if gate space were to become available somewhere in the Big Apple,” Aguiar said.

Instead, Delta would add to its service between LaGuardia and the Atlanta airport.

For Gainesville airport travelers, LaGuardia is second most frequent final destination behind Miami, which only took the top spot after American Airlines began offering direct service in late 2010.

The airport is planning a 2014 study to collect data on which airports local fliers use for departures and their destinations.

Aguiar said the search for other airlines with different business models will continue.

“To attract more business in our area and to keep business in our area, convincing an airline is important,” Aguiar said. “There are opportunities out there. We need to find them and convince the airline that it's a viable option.”

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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