Nonstop flights to Miami from Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) will return on Oct. 7 with American Airlines after the COVID-19 pandemic shut the connection down.
The Miami flight ended in April 2020 before restarting in September of that year, but American Airlines stopped the services again, meaning GNV hasn’t sent a nonstop to Miami since 2020.
“We're just happy that they're coming back and people will have the nonstop to Miami once again,” GNV spokesperson Erin Porter said in a phone interview.
She said Miami is a perfect connection for international travel and several frequent flyers replied to the news saying they had already booked flights.
But whether or not the flight continues taking off from GNV depends on the community’s use.
“Airlines are still in healing mode, so they look at things just like any business,” Porter said.
An increase in sales signals the airline that multiple flights to and from Miami could benefit the community and the airline. And the airlines, not the airport itself, control the flight destinations.
American Airlines started a new flight to Dallas earlier this year. Porter said the Dallas route has increased from one flight a day to three.
The Miami flight will run once per day―a 3:25 p.m. outbound flight to Miami and a 1:45 p.m. inbound flight from Miami.
Porter said airlines and airports have joined forces to make the experience as safe and sanitary as possible as COVID-19 continues.
“Our (Miami) nonstop is an easy and quick way to get to South Florida and beyond, including numerous international destinations,” GNV CEO Allan Penksa said in a statement. “We are grateful to American Airlines for making the investment to re-establish the important connection as we continue on toward more regular operations at GNV, and we encourage our community to respond by Flying Easy from GNV as a great way to get there.”
The airport is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the future could see increases for GNV.
“If COVID subsides and we get back to normal, we should be in a really great position to grow,” Penksa said in an August interview.
He reported that December 2020 flights totaled 50 percent of the pre-pandemic amount and July 2021 number rose to almost 90 percent.
The airport also received $5.6 million from two federal grants for apron and taxiway upgrades.