A quieter way of life does not mean forgoing connections to the outside world. Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) offers close and convenient air service to people living in Greater Gainesville.
GNV has experienced strong growth in the past couple of years, including an all-time record of travelers set in 2015. According to enplanement numbers reported by the airlines, the annual total of passengers leaving GNV came to 217,355 — more than two percent above 2014, and 892 passengers more than the previous record set in 1990.
“We have to thank our community for using their local airport more than ever,” said GNV CEO Allan Penksa. “Strong growth will help the community in several ways, in garnering grant funds to expand our terminal, planned to begin in 2017, 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, Penksa said.
“It’s really about what our market will bear. But a community with enplanements equal to population size is really doing well,” said Penksa. According to 2010 Census data, Alachua County’s population is just about 250,000. GNV hosts two legacy air carriers, with service to hub cities from which customers can reach nearly anywhere in the world. Delta Airlines flies six times a day to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International, the airport with the most connections in the world, and American Airlines serves both Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Miami International Airport.
GNV is a quieter, friendlier hometown airport, which reduces some of the hassles and stress of air travel. Air fares are competitively priced when accounting for your mileage in traveling to larger, international hub airports. With growing congestion on Interstate 75, there is convenience as well as safety in using GNV instead of traveling hours away to larger airports.
Time is valuable. GNV’s website, flygainesville.com, features a Cost Calculator. Travelers can compare fares to their chosen destination between GNV, JAX (Jacksonville International Airport) and MCO (Orlando International Airport). The Cost Calculator will add mileage, tolls and parking fees. It may be up to each individual traveler to decide what their time is worth!
GNV’s Economic Impact
Gainesville Regional Airport works like a mall, maintaining the facility and attracting other businesses to the community. Between commercial terminal tenants like the airlines and car rental agencies, as well as general aviation tenants, GNV employs more 300 people. Using economic multipliers, the Florida Department of Transportation estimates GNV’s economic impact on the surrounding area to be more than $303 million, supporting 3,153 jobs and over $96 million in payroll.
There are approximately 30 on-site tenants that contribute to the airport’s annual economic impact. Besides commercial airlines, other businesses support health, welfare, and safety-related services, i.e. air ambulances and EMS transport organ and blood transport, police helicopter units, forest service, FAA, TSA, etc. Direct economic impacts also include airport-related construction jobs from annual capital improvement projects.
Big Time Amenities, Small Town Feel
GNV recently invested in upgrading its bandwidth for continued free access to Wi-Fi for area travelers. Once upon a time, travelers logged on to Wi-Fi with their laptops to do a little work. Today, it’s not just laptops connecting to Wi-Fi, but also mobile phones and Bluetooth devices competing for space on the public network.
“The number of devices and types of downloads, like video, had greatly overwhelmed the resources that were available,” said Paul Adjan, GNV facilities manager. In order to meet the growing needs of business travelers, GNV has increased the number of IP addresses accessible for Wi-Fi in the commercial terminal by the hundreds. “We’ve added and updated access points as well as increased Internet speed,” explained Adjan. Wi-Fi remains free throughout the GNV terminal. To access, just click on HotzSpotz from the list of available Wi-Fi.
Educators from the University of Florida and around the world will have special, secure access to their cloud files through Eduroam. Through a partnership with the university and the software company, two access points have been installed at the terminal, one in each public waiting area.
Tailwind Deli, News and Gifts offers passengers food and full bar beverage service, both in the public waiting area and past the security checkpoint in the gate area. Tailwind can serve up a burger or salad and some of Gainesville’s hometown craft brews from Swamp Head Brewery or First Magnitude Brewery. The gift shop has many oft-forgotten toiletries and electronics like phone chargers, as well as the local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, and other periodicals for sale.
GNV staff can provide concierge wheelchair assistance at no cost to travelers who need it. Just ask the curb security guard to call someone to bring a chair to the curb. The guard can also direct you to where to find a free luggage cart. Other amenities are available for travelers, including an ATM, hand sanitizing stations at the baggage carousel and a family restroom. There is a dog walk just east of the terminal entrance for pets that need to stretch and wag before or after a trip.
Ultimate Road Warrior Program
Gainesville is a business travel market with many frequent travelers connecting with clients across the globe. More than 2,000 people are registered with GNV’s Ultimate Road Warrior program, a loyalty program rewarding travelers with local perks from sponsors.
Once a month, the airport checks the trips logged by passengers with the program and awards gift certificates, hotel points and more. Top travelers win the most, but GNV saves numerous perks for travelers logging at least one trip.
Only Road Warrior members have access to a private lounge, sponsored and designed by Interiors by Sheila, Inc., located next to the airport administration office. Membership is free and travelers can sign up at flygainesville.com.
The History of Air Travel in Gainesville
Initial construction of Gainesville’s airport took place in 1941 and was done by the Works Progress Administration and then by the U.S. Engineer Department. Then known as Alachua Army Airfield, it was used by the Army Air Corp and the Army Air Force during World War II.
On Mar. 2, 1942 the City Council establishes the name of the airfield as the John R. Alison Airport. John R. Alison was a local citizen and graduate of the University of Florida, who served with valor and distinction in World War II. While serving with General Chennault’s Flying Tigers, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Alison later served as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics under President Truman.
The airport was deeded to the city of Gainesville in 1948. At the time, the field was known as the John R. Alison Airport and also as the Gainesville Municipal Airport. The airport was renamed the Gainesville Regional Airport in 1977. The airline passenger terminal was dedicated to John R. Allison in 1979. In 2014, the airport’s new entrance road was named John R. Alison Avenue. A memorial marker is located near the Waldo Road walking path with a bench that has a view of both runways.
Gainesville Regional Airport is an economic asset to the community as businesses will seek to locate in areas with convenient air service. Airport staff and community officials continuously work to attract new service and airlines to the community by touting our area’s growth and economic opportunities.
Sign up for Low Fare Alerts
Airfare at GNV has gotten more competitive with surrounding airports. But fares are constantly changing and depend on numerous factors. Airfare is monitored by revenue managers as well as each airline’s computer system. Prices depend on your date of departure, time of departure (morning and afternoon flights can be different on the same day) length of stay as well as destination.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping around for fares. The lowest fares are quite often midweek flights, times that are unpopular with either business or leisure travelers. The fares listed in the Low Fare Alert email are for two-night stays. Fares could be higher if you are a one-night business traveler or lower if you are a seven-night leisure traveler.
Since there are so many variables, the Low Fare Alert provides a range of fares to set a target for your search. There is no guarantee that your selected travel schedule will match any one particular fare. The lowest fare may only be one or two days during that one-month time period.
Airfare Pricing Tips
There are no best times to shop for”sales” because it depends on each individual market and seasonality there.
While the cheapest travel days do depend on the route, in general, Tuesday and Wednesday are the least expensive days to fly because demand is lowest. Also, airfares typically go up in early summer and begin in fall near Labor Day. This is particularly so wit international travel.
A sale is when a particular flight is not selling well and the computer drops the price of a few seats. But you need to to act quickly as once those seats start selling, the fares on that flight go up again.
Recent research shows 57 days advance purchase is optimum. So, aim to shop between four and six weeks ahead of intended travel. But start pricing before then if you can and get an idea of where fares are coming in during different days of the week. Once you see a low far, you’ll want to book it before it goes away.
Be careful about over-shopping your destination on serval search engines at once. The computers monitor flight searches and if your flight looks popular, the fare could go up while you are looking!
Plan for the 30-Minute Window
Frequent travelers know the ropes at GNV, making access easy and efficient. “Used to the time it takes to navigate larger airports, newer travelers to GNV don’t realize check in for all flights closes 30 minutes prior to time of departure,” said airport Public Relations Manager Laura Aguiar. “At a small airport, this can catch some by surprise.”
Passengers may think they have plenty of time and they miss their flight, although it is still boarding at the gate. Passengers can check-in at home 24 hours out and have a printed or eboarding pass. If a traveler is checking luggage, he or she will also want to do that at the ticket counter prior to the 30-minute window. Even if you are standing in line when the time window closes, the ticket agents cannot override this security measure.
“Even though there is seldom a wait time at the security checkpoint,” adds Aguiar, “Please plan accordingly for a stress-free trip.” The only time GNV accumulates a line at the checkpoint is during early morning departures, she added.