Northeast Florida’s main air travel hub made a full recovery in 2023 from the airline passenger hit caused by COVID-19. In fact, Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) recorded more travelers shuffling through its gates than ever before.
JIA, which serves a large swath of North Florida and well into South Georgia, recorded about 7.45 million passengers who flew out of and into the airport in 2023, according to figures released this week by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA).
That figure far surpasses any year during the pandemic and was a higher number than in 2019, the year before the pandemic, when about 7.19 million passengers used the facility. The 2023 tally is a record number of visitors at JIA for any year.
“Northeast Florida is incredibly desirable as a place to visit and live, and our record airport traffic is a testament to that,” said Mark VanLoh, CEO of JAA. “Our team is focused on bringing the best experience to passengers, including faster security screening, more dining choices and additional nonstop routes to the most popular destinations.”
The 2023 figures represent a 13% increase over the 2022 JIA number of users alone, which was about 6.57 million. The pandemic hobbled air travel at JIA, as it did for airports across the United States. In 2020, only 2.85 million people used JIA for travel as the COVID-19 outbreak swept the nation. In 2021, that figure increased notably to 5.04 million people, but was still far off from pre-COVID-19 figures.
While JAA officials said 2023’s record figure of JIA use represents a hallmark moment for the airport, they focused more on North Florida’s rapidly expanding business environment and explosive housing growth coupled with notable improvements at the travel hub as the main reasons for the new level of users.
“As one of the best mid-sized airports in the country, Jacksonville International Airport is an asset our community takes great pride in,” said JAA board chair Michelle Barnett.
“Anyone traveling through (Jacksonville) can witness the investment we are making in the airport, through the improvements to the security area and the upcoming Concourse B addition. Our airport is one of the key reasons why Jacksonville is a great place to visit or do business.”