Today, a special meeting of the St Johns County Airport Authority might signal the return of commercial air service at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport, according to details received by Historic City News this morning. The five-member board will decide whether to pursue contract negotiations with another low-cost carrier that wants to bring passenger service to St Augustine.
Airport Executive Director Ed Wuellner has reported that he’s been in talks with the airline, who cannot yet be named, for many months about bringing service here. That’s been one of his consistent missions for nearly two decades. Wuellner has no say in the matter but simply brings the proposal to the board for a vote.
“The public investment in infrastructure has already been made by the airport authority, the FAA, and the Department of Transportation,” Wuellner said. “Equipment, the airline terminal, apron, all of the supporting infrastructure for air service has already been invested in. Restarting commercial air service would require little to no capital investment since the airport is already set up to support the business. I think it’s important that we make good use of that investment.”
If the Airport Board decides that it wants to give another airline a chance to make this destination work, the new airline could come as early as March and, according to The Jacksonville Business Journal Daily Editor, Stuart Korfhage, flights could begin in June. The agenda documents show that the carrier is interested in a total of nine flights per week between St Augustine and New Haven, Connecticut; Wilmington, Delaware; and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
The Airport Authority received a grant for $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a promise for $300,000 from the St Johns County Visitors and Convention Bureau to facilitate air service to Charlotte, North Carolina. However, that money has not been spent because no airline has come forward to provide that service yet. It was thought that American Airlines would step forward because it has a hub in Charlotte.
“The grant is still active; it’s just that no one is using it,” Wuellner said.