Historic City News learned this week that, with thanks in no small part to Mayo Clinic, beginning July 20, 2018, Elite Airways will begin operating flights between Rochester, Minnesota and the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine.
The new service route is designed to connect the Mayo Clinic headquarters in Rochester, MN and the major campuses in Northeast Florida, with twice-weekly nonstop jet service. Elite will operate a CRJ-700 jet on the route, seating 70 people in a comfortable two-by-two seating configuration.
“Elite Airways is pleased to start service in St. Augustine, one of the most historic and picturesque towns in northeastern Florida, with twice-weekly nonstop service to Rochester, MN,” said John Pearsall, President of Elite Airways. “Elite appreciates the value of flying to and from one’s hometown airport with fewer lines and wait times, and we believe this route will be embraced by both business and leisure travelers.”
If ridership is strong, Pearsall said that we can explore adding additional routes at Northeast Florida Regional Airport later in the year.
“Mayo operates as one clinic with three destination sites, so our staff often travel between Mayo locations in Jacksonville, Rochester, and Phoenix” said Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., vice president of Mayo Clinic and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Direct flights provide an exciting new opportunity for Mayo Clinic staff to conveniently connect.”
The new jet service will be a welcome addition to Mayo Clinic staff, patients and families who wish to fly nonstop between these two prominent campus locations.
About 30-40 members of the local Chamber of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureau, board members of the Airport Authority, and other dignitaries were on hand Thursday morning to extend a warm welcome to the local airport’s newest addition. Although the Board of County Commissioners sent Melissa Glasgow, Director of Economic Development for St Johns County, the City of St Augustine did not show interest or participate.
“Elite Airways passengers receive free onboard snacks and beverages, a free first checked bag up to 50 pounds, and there are no ticketing change fees,” Jill Pacetti, a candidate for city commission in St Augustine. “As a mother who would travel with two children, I certainly appreciate that.”
Television, radio, newspaper, and digital media reporters were able to ask questions after brief remarks by Elite Airways representatives.
“We are delighted to welcome Elite Airways’ scheduled service to our airport,” said Ed Wuellner, Executive Director of the St. Augustine – St. Johns County Airport Authority. “The new service will serve as an important business route for our region and also help attract new tourists to the area.
In its first year the airline will bring new overnight visitors who are expected to contribute more than $4.6 million dollars in direct spending to our local economy according to tourism officials.
“Everyone in Florida’s Historic Coast’s tourism community will embrace Elite Airways’ new non-stop air service,” stated Richard Goldman, President & Chief Executive Officer, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau. “The new service will introduce our many authentic, unique experiences to the people of southern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin.”
You can check fares and schedules at eliteairways.com, or by calling (877) 393-2510. You can also book your trip through most travel websites or your travel agent.
Headquartered in Portland Maine, Elite Airways LLC was founded in 2006 by airline veterans with the goal to provide passengers a better travel experience with nonstop flights, competitive prices and exceptional service. Elite Airways is a U.S. Part 121 Air Carrier and provides chartered and scheduled service throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and South America. The airline’s routes connect underserved communities with popular destinations. All scheduled flights are sold and operated by Elite Airways LLC.
The members of the St. Augustine – St. Johns County Airport Authority are elected by the citizens of St. Johns County and serve without remuneration. The Airport Authority is chartered by the Florida Legislature for the purpose of operating and developing the Northeast Florida Regional Airport on behalf of the citizens of St. Johns County. Learn more at: www.flynf.com.