Gainesville Regional Airport is undergoing renovations after flying a record number of passengers.
According to American Airlines and Delta Air, 217,355 people flew out of Gainesville last year, breaking the previous record set in 1990, which was 216,463.
To accommodate more passengers, the airport is adding more restrooms to the area past security, said Laura Aguiar, the manager of public relations and governmental affairs at Gainesville Regional Airport. They are also thinking about expanding to have two security lanes and increase parking.
“I think this milestone is just a reflection on a lot of good things going on in our community,” she said.
Aguiar said as more people choose to fly out of Gainesville, additional airlines might use the airport, giving access to more cities, she said.
“Airlines are always looking for people to sell their market to, and locals want a convenient airport that is close to them and flies out of a lot of places,” Aguiar said.
Construction has already begun at the airport, she said. Right now, there are crews adding more space to hold larger aircrafts.
Ultimately, the airport wants to open up a west concourse, Aguiar said. Space is becoming an issue due to larger capacity aircrafts and double the amount of people coming through each day.
“It can get a little packed, especially early in the morning,” she said.
Riley Cutler, a UF advertising junior, said she flies out of Gainesville when she goes home to Virginia. She said she has noticed more passengers at the airport now than in the past.
Cutler, unlike most out-of-state
students, said she chooses to use the Gainesville airport instead of going to larger airports because it’s cheaper and more convenient.
“By the time you add up how much money it takes to rent a car and get to these other airports, like Tampa or Orlando, it’s just easier to fly local,” the 20-year-old said.
The growing number of passengers helps keep the airport in business, said Susan Crowley, the assistant vice president for community relations at UF.
Gainesville Regional Airport attracts faculty as well as business and technological leaders who travel all over the world, she said. There could also be more flights during the day in the future.
A meeting will take place next month with various airline companies to talk about expanding services, Aguiar said.
“If our numbers continue to grow, there could possibly be a flight going to New York,” Crowley said. “That would be tremendous.”