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Jacksonville International Airport – representing Florida’s largest city

Jacksonville International Airport represents Florida's largest city, one that has a comprehensive industrial and commercial presence as well as being an attraction to tourists of all kinds.

Despite the city’s commercial status, a five million ppa throughput, and a high degree of connectivity compared with a local airport peer group, the airport's traffic growth has stalled in recent years. Most domestic flights are to hubs. It is hoped that Cuban flights might start up shortly, placing Jacksonville strategically.

This report looks at present and future growth trends at the airport, local airport statistics, how it matches up to competing airports across a range of metrics, at construction activities and airport ownership.

Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city in more ways than one

Rather than the better known cities of Miami or Orlando – as might be expected – Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city by population (870,000) and the 12th largest in the US as a whole, on account of local government consolidation placing most of its population within the city limits. The metropolitan area population is 1.35 million, and physically the city is the largest in the US at 834 square miles.

Jacksonville has been a major military and civilian deep water port since the 19th century. There are two large US Navy bases there, and the Port of Jacksonville is Florida's third largest seaport. Other key elements of the local economy include services such as banking, insurance, health care However, it does not register in the Globalisation and World Cities Research Network’s inventory of actual or aspiring global cities, in which Miami and Atlanta feature as Alpha World Cities – the third highest ranking.

Tourism is also important and particularly golf tourism. In the early 20th century the city was a major centre for the film industry owing to its warm climate, exotic locations, good rail access and cheap labour; more than 30 silent film studios were established there. However, the emergence of Hollywood put paid to that industry.

Location of Jacksonville International Airport in relation to rivals

For the purposes of this report Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) is compared with neighbouring airports at Tallahassee (the state capital), Daytona Beach, Orlando International and Savannah/Hilton Head in Georgia (a small city but with a big tourist industry).

For a comparison with Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte Douglas airports:

See the related report (Feb-2016): http://centreforaviation.com/insights/analysis/miamis-airport-juggles-its-role-as-the-us-primary-passenger-and-cargo-gateway-to-latin-america-265516

Jacksonville is the second most significant regional airport regionally, after Orlando International  

The table below compares JIA with the peer and neighbouring airports in Florida and the south eastern US using a variety of metrics that include aviation and population statistics. They are mainly O&D airports.

Rankings by assorted metrics:  

Airport/metric

ASKs

Seats

Frequencies

Cargo payload

Pax  (million)

(2015 unless specified)

 

City population (million)

Jacksonville Intn’l

349

295

245

331

5.0

1.35

Tallahassee Intn’l

1328

1168

1049

1126

0.69

0.38

Daytona Beach

976

905

997

864

0.62

0.60

Orlando Intn’l

49

50

50

57

38.8

2.38

Savannah/Hilton Head

584

483

422

636

2.0

0.38

It is evident that Orlando International dominates this table, operating on a much bigger scale than the other airports. Apart from that, JIA is the most significant airport in the group by all measures.  

The tables below show how JIA compares alongside a selection of neighbouring US airports, i.e. the ones compared in the previous table, in terms of airline activity and route development.  

JIA Network Summary (at 23-May-2016)  

Total Airlines

8

    Domestic only

6

    International

2

Total nonstop passenger destinations

34

    Domestic

31

    Africa

0

    Asia Pacific

0

    Europe

0

    Latin America

2

    Middle East

0

    North America

1

Total nonstop freight destinations

0

    Domestic

0

    Africa

0

    Asia Pacific

0

    Europe

0

    Latin America

0

    Middle East

0

    North America

0

Comparison of airports by total airlines and nonstop destinations  

Airport

Total airlines

Pax traffic 2015 (millions)

Pax to airline ratio

International airlines

Nonstop passenger destinations

Nonstop freight destinations

Jacksonville Intn’l

8

5.0

0.6

2

34

0

Tallahassee Intn’l

4

0.7

0.2

0

7

2

Daytona Beach

3

0.6

0.2

0

3

0

Orlando Intn’l

34

38.8

1.1

26

104

4

Savannah/Hilton Head

6

2.0

0.3

0

20

0

This chart also confirms the pre-eminent role of Orlando International Airport in the region – the central and northern parts of Florida, stretching out into southern Georgia.

However, JIA is shown to be the second most important regional airport by all measures except nonstop freight destinations (Tallahassee) and pax to airline ratio, which points towards the degree of airline competition and passenger choice at the airport, as measured by the annual passenger number vs. the number of airlines.

A low reading equals greater competition/choice, but with only eight airlines for five million passengers – JIA is the second highest figure.

Jacksonville's international connectivity is to the Caribbean

The route map below shows destinations that can be reached by direct (red) or connecting (blue) flights. There are two international country destinations currently: the Bahamas and Antigua, plus Puerto Rico (a US Commonwealth territory).

Otherwise, all services are contained within mainland USA. There are no intercontinental long haul services. The airport has two runways, one of 3048m x 45m, and Customs and Border Control facilities, so expansion of international services that are in keeping with the city’s economic and tourism status should be possible if the demand is there.

Direct and indirect (connecting) routes from JIA

The ‘heat’ map below simplifies the information above by identifying the countries/regions with the greatest density of international seats, and they are the northern part of South America followed by Central America and Western Europe.   

JIA capacity, seats by region, ‘heat’ map, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

Nonstop connectivity - JIA is ahead of most rivals

The chart below adds more detail to the examination of nonstop connectivity and this time embracing all destinations rather than just international ones, and comparing JIA again with the same clutch of airports.

Nonstop connectivity values (passenger destinations). Comparison of JIA, Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, Orlando International and Savannah/Hilton Head airports, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

Again, one would expect Orlando International to be well ahead of all the other airports, and particularly so on international services, but a strong showing in the US plus the Latin America services ensure that JIA is ahead of other competing airports by this measure.

Landing charges are on the high side  

The selected criterion here is landing charges for five different aircraft types at JIA and at other airports in Florida. In this instance the comparable airports are different because charges data is not kept on smaller airports, hence those shown are the Orlando, Tampa and Miami International airports.  

The chart of landing charges at these airports, below, shows that in 2014 there was no material advantage to be gained by flying into JIA compared with its rivals.

In four of the five aircraft categories Jacksonville had the highest landing charges. There are other charging methods where a comparison may produce a different result but based solely on this evidence there are issues of cost competitiveness that could adversely influence growth, especially in the international arena.  

Landing Charges (USD) for Jacksonville International Airport [JAX], Orlando International Airport [MCO], Tampa International Airport [TPA], Miami International Airport [MIA] for 2014

LCCs account for one third of capacity at JIA

At JIA 35.7% of seats are on low cost airlines, a brand that is tending to fragment into low cost, high value airlines and ultra-low cost airlines.

JIA capacity, seat share by airline type, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

The chart below compares this traffic split with the airport’s peers.

Comparison of selected airports by airline type – seat availability, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016 

Airport

% of seats on FSCs

% of seats on LCCs

% of seats on other modes (e.g. regional, charter airlines)

Elaboration of airline types

Jacksonville Intn’l

63.2

35.7

1.1

Regional/commuter

Tallahassee Intn’l

92.5

-

7.5

Regional/commuter

Daytona Beach

87.5

12.5

-

-

Orlando Intn’l

45.1

53.2

1.7

Regional/commuter & charter

Savannah/Hilton Head

80.1

19.9

-

There is no obvious trend for this collection of airports. JIA has the second highest ratio of LCCs after Orlando, but all the airports appear to cater for their own very individual markets.  

Equitable split of seat capacity among operators

The main airlines operating at JIA are shown in the seat capacity distribution chart below. The leading airline by capacity is Delta Air Lines, including Delta Connection, followed by American Airlines, including American Eagle. ULCCs are represented by Allegiant, at 7% of capacity. 

JIA capacity (seats per week), by all airlines, total system, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

Domestic routes – Atlanta leads

The busiest domestic routes, by passengers, are shown in the table below (year to Oct-2015). In order of popularity they were:  

City

Pax
(Oct-2014 to Sep-2015)

Main airlines

Atlanta

758,000

Delta, Southwest

Charlotte

267,000

American, US Airways

New York JFK

187,000

Delta, JetBlue

Dallas-Fort Worth

161,000

American

Baltimore

137,000

Southwest

Washington National

128,000

American, JetBlue, US Airways

Miami

109,000

American

Chicago O’Hare

98,000

American, United

Nashville

95,000

Southwest

Fort Lauderdale

86,000

JetBlue, Silver Airways

While there is no great difference in the ratio of first, business, premium economy and economy seat capacity at JIA compared with the peer group, some small differences are evident. There are slightly fewer first and business class seats than at most of the peer group airports. JIA is probably best described as an ‘economy cabin-oriented’ airport although, again, the variations are marginal.

JIA and peer group combined schedule by class of seat - one way weekly departing seats (total system) 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016


The actual figures are available online in the CAPA site but not in this representation, and for JIA they are:  

% of seats

First

Business

Premium Economy

Economy

JIA

5.8

1.1

3.2

89.8

Alliance penetration is strong, led by SkyTeam  

Airline alliances are fairly strong at JIA, led by SkyTeam with over 28% of seat capacity, and of this figure Delta Airlines is a principal component. But over a third of capacity remains on unaligned airlines.    

JIA capacity, seat share by alliance/unaligned, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016


This is compared with peer airports and the same group is used as previously. JIA has the second highest ratio of seat capacity on unaligned airlines and the fourth highest ratio of seats on aligned airlines. Notably the smaller Tallahassee, Daytona Beach and Savannah/Hilton Head airports all have a greater aligned airline capacity.

This hints at the comparative lack of a ‘business’ nature to the airport. On the other hand Orlando is a major centre for several hi-tech industries as well as being a vacation gateway, and that airport has a lower aligned airline capacity than does Jacksonville. Hence these statistics should be regarded only as trend indicators.

Comparison of JIA with selected airports by alliance penetration – seat capacity, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016  

Airport

% of seats on
unaligned airlines

% of seats on
aligned airlines

Jacksonville Intn’l

36.8

63.2

Tallahassee Intn’l

7.5

92.5

Daytona Beach

12.5

87.5

Orlando Intn’l

59.1

40.9

Savannah/Hilton Head

19.9

80.1

Seat capacity growing from 2013  

After dipping by 0.6 million between 2012 and 2013, seat capacity has been growing again – back to 6.6 million in 2015, the same as it was in 2012. 

Jacksonville International Airport seat capacity year-on-year


Variable traffic growth figures in 2013-2015; downward trend since 2008  

Somewhat in contrast, between 2013 and 2014 passenger traffic grew by 2.5%, only to fall by 4.6% between 2014 and 2015 to five million. This perpetuates a general downward trend observed since a high of six million passengers in 2008. 

JIA annual passenger numbers


Figures from the JIA website however indicate that the tide may be turning in the airport’s favour. The average passenger growth rate in 1Q2016 was 8.2%, with +16.5% recorded in Feb-2016.

Stage lengths – almost all seats are on flights of up to four hours' duration

Over two thirds of seats at JIA are on flights of up to two hours in length, and a further third on flights of up to four hours, leaving just 0.2% on flights of up to six hours, which is representative of the route map above.

There are few cross-country flights and many of the services are into primary hub airports (principally Atlanta, also Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, Denver etc), as well as into a smattering of secondary ones. The main exception to that rule is the ULCC Allegiant Air, which flies often to secondary-level O&D airports.

JIA seats by length of flight, total system, 23-May-2015 to 29-May-2016


The chart below also emphasises the heavy concentration of flight frequencies at JIA in the 0-2 hour flight time band.

JIA frequencies 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

Another perspective on frequencies is represented below in the form of a bar chart of seat capacity (arriving and departing) by time of day, on a typical day, which is 26-May-2016.

There is no curfew in place at JIA but no activity takes place between 0100 and 0500. Overall there is equilibrium between departures and arrivals except for early morning – the three hours between 0500 and 0800 – and late evening between 2100 and 0000.  

JIA, seats per hour, typical day, Thursday 26-May-2016 (all airlines, total system, all terminals, all origins and destinations)

Cargo – capacity declined slightly in 2015  

All freight at JIA is carried on passenger aircraft; there are no dedicated freighters although there are parcel carriers. All but 0.5% of cargo capacity is domestic. Capacity in 2015 amounted to 88.3 million kilos – slightly reduced on the previous year.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are the biggest providers, as with passenger seat capacity, but where cargo is concerned the third largest capacity supplier is jetBlue, followed by Southwest Airlines and United holding only fifth place in the ranking.  

Jacksonville International Airport total capacity per week (cargo payload, kg), total system, by airline, 23-May-2016 to 29-May-2016

Of the international capacity, there is an even split between Canada and the Caribbean.

Modest construction is under way  

The airport is a single terminal building, and it shares facilities with the military.  

According to the CAPA Airport Construction database a modest amount of construction work is under way on two capital projects, estimated at USD5.2 million during the 2016 fiscal year (01-Jul-2015 through 30-Jun-2016). The first is a maintenance and warehouse facility estimated at USD2.7 million, and the second is a USD2.5 million parking plaza.  

Ownership remains wholly in the public sector; no indication of change

In May-2001 the Florida State Legislature approved the restructuring of the Jacksonville Port Authority (JPA) into two separate entities, effective 01-Oct-2001: the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) and the Jacksonville Seaport Authority. 

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA), an independent government agency created by the Florida legislature, operates primarily as a landlord managing the upkeep, improvement and expansion of the airport's facilities and coordinating their use by private companies. JAA owns the runways, hangars, passenger terminal building, airport grounds and road connections to the public highway system.

While the JAA is a member of the Transportation Research Board, which evaluated airport privatisation in the FAA sponsored Airport Cooperative Research Programme, and while partial privatisation via a 25-year master concessionaire operation was investigated in 2008, there is no indication of any intention to privatise the facility at this time.

Summary and conclusions

  • Jacksonville is a large city in northern Florida with important naval bases and a diverse range of business and commerce.
  • Certain types of tourism, especially golf, are important to the local economy.
  • In a peer group of regional airports in Florida and Georgia Orlando International dominates, but otherwise JIA scores highly across a range of metrics. However, it lacks competitiveness in the measure of the number of airlines for the total number of passengers, compared with its rivals.
  • International services are to Canada and the Caribbean. A service to Cuba is sought. The airport has a long runway that could accommodate medium/long haul services.
  • Apart from Orlando International, JIA is ahead of the competition in terms of nonstop connectivity.
  • Landing charges (2014) appear to be higher than at some competing airports.
  • Over a third of seats at JIA are on low cost airlines, more than at all the peer group competitors apart from Orlando International,
  • Atlanta has the most domestic passengers – almost three times as many as second placed Charlotte.
  • There are slightly fewer first and business class seats at JIA than at most of the peer group airports.
  • 63% of seats at JIA are on alliance airlines, led by SkyTeam, but that is a lower ratio than all other peer group members apart from Orlando International.
  • Seat capacity has grown every year since 2013, but there has been an overall downward trend in passenger traffic since 2008. However, passenger numbers were well up in 1Q2016.
  • The majority of flights into and out of JIA are of two hours' duration or less. 
  • There is no curfew, but no activity takes place between 0100 and 0500. Overall there is equilibrium between departures and arrivals, except for early morning and late evening.  
  • All freight is carried on passenger aircraft. There are no dedicated freighters.  
  • Only a small amount of construction activity is taking place.  
  • The airport is under the tenancy of The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA), an independent government agency that owns the runways, hangars, passenger terminal building, airport grounds and road connections to the public highway system. While potential privatisation has been examined in the past there is no known intention in that direction.

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