Current Feature Stories

Lyft reaches transportation agreement with JAA

Apr 20, 2017
Derek Gilliam, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Ridesharing company Lyft has reached an agreement with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority that will allow the company to pick up fares at the Jacksonville International Airport.

Ride-sharing companies are prohibited from picking up fares at Jacksonville's main airport until the agreement goes into effect May 1.

“Our customers, the traveling public, are requesting access to ridesharing companies like Lyft at the airport,” said JAA CEO Steve Grossman. “And even though the city of Jacksonville and the state of Florida have been exploring legislation to regulate transportation networking companies, we thought it best to proceed with an agreement that establishes rules and regulations and provides revenue to the airport.”

Lyft paid $5,000 to execute the agreement, Michael Stewart, JAA director of external affairs, told the Jacksonville Business Journal. There will be an additional $3.25 pick up fee for each fare piked up from JIA.

"We're excited to be the first transportation network company to operate at JAX and would like to thank Steve Grossman and his staff for their collaborative work in creating this partnership," said Kirk Safford, Lyft's Senior Manager of Airports and Venues, in a prepared statement.

Stewart said that while Lyft is the first, negotiations are ongoing with Uber.

The agreement also requires that lyft drivers have a valid Florida driver's license and automobile insurance. Also, all drivers will have to complete a criminal background check and a DMV record check. Their vehicles must also pass a 19-point inspection.

Lyft drivers will also use a technology that will ping the airport as it enters airport property, ensuring accurate record keeping, according to a JAA news release.


New agreement with JAA allows Lyft to legally pick up riders at Jacksonville airport

Apr 20, 2017
by: Nora Clark, Action News Jax

Lyft Inc. and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority have signed a contract to allow the ride sharing company to now legally pick up riders at the Jacksonville International Airport. 

Both the city of Jacksonville and the state of Florida are exploring legislation to regulate transportation networking companies like Lyft.

JAA CEO Steve Grossman told an Aviation Business editor that it was important to make this agreement with Lyft.

"Our customers, the traveling public, are requesting access to ridesharing companies like Lyft at the airport," Grossman said. "We thought it best to proceed with an agreement that establishes rules and regulations and provides revenue to the airport.”

The agreement between JAA and Lyft includes certain rules, including that Lyft drivers must have a valid Florida driver's license and have completed a DMV record check. 

The ride sharing company will also use Geo-Fence technology in order to keep accuracy of passenger drop offs and pick ups high. This is also a safety feature important to the airport and JAA  as the driver's phone will ping the airport when the vehicle arrives on the property, recording the activity. 

"This is an important transportation feature for our customers, and equally important protection for the airport and the authority,” JAA Chairman Patrick Kilbane told Aviation Business.

Lyft's senior manager of airports and venues Kirk Safford emphasized the importance of such regulations in the agreement and commended the Jacksonville Aviation Authority for the collaboration.

“We’re thrilled with this agreement that will bring Lyft’s safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options to the millions of passengers who travel through Jacksonville International Airport each year. We’re excited to be the first transportation network company to operate at JAX and would like to thank Steve Grossman and his staff for their collaborative work in creating this partnership,” the senior manager said.

The agreement goes into effect on May 1, and will continue through April 30 of 2018. 


Jacksonville JetPort finishes construction of their second hangar at Cecil Airport

Apr 12, 2017
Junior Skepple, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Hangar 945, the 25,000-square-foot maintenance hangar at Cecil Airport was recently completed by Jacksonville Jetport

Jacksonville Jetport has recently completed the construction of a 25,5000-square-foot hangar at Cecil Airport, according to a spokesperson for the company. The hangar, also known as Hangar 945, will be used for aircraft maintenance.

JJP is the only fuel provider at Cecil Airport and the new facility will double its space. The first property was built in 2012 and was used solely for storage, but the new facility will expand JJP's capabilities at Cecil.

"Our first hangar was strictly at a storage hangar and what differentiates hangars is the kind of fire protection you have. The first hangar had basic water and fire protection, the second hangar has a full foam fire protection system which makes it a maintenance hangar," director of marketing and government liaison for Jacksonville Jetport Scott Morrison said. "If you want to get more business at Cecil you have to have the accommodations for the businesses and that requires building hangar space."

Jacksonville Jetport is not releasing how much the project cost, but Morrison said the project cost "in the neighborhood of $4 million." Hangar 945 is the second privately-funded hangar to be built at Cecil Airport. The new hangar has about 19,000 square feet of hangar floor space and 6,500 square feet of office space attached to the hangar portion of the facility. The planning and completion of the new hangar took about 18 months in total and the construction, which was done by Toney Construction Company, took a year.

The hangar does not have a tenant currently, but Morrison says they are close to signing a lease with a tenant and they expect to move the new tenant to move-in by June. Jacksonville Jetport said they have plans to build further on Cecil Airport property and those plans are in the beginning stages.


JAX hosts guide dogs in training; Pups learn proper protocol for flying

April 04, 2017
By Kent Justice - Reporter/11 p.m. anchor

Airports host biped travelers every day they’re open, but the Jacksonville International Airport on Tuesday hosted a group of four-legged friends in a training program that allowed K-9s into the airport and through security.

A group of dogs isn't exactly what you'd expect when you walk into the airport. Sandy the dog was in attendance with a school that was doing some training Tuesday as part of a program that helps them become guide dogs and help somebody throughout the rest of their life.

"It's amazing the work that the guide dogs do," said Thresa Shaver, area coordinator for Southeast Guide Dogs. "And it does take a very special dog to get into that program.”

The dogs are puppies working their way through various stages of a yearlong program of learning.

"Once they go back to the guides dogs school, (they're) really put through a battery of tests to make sure that they are not going to stress out for the work," Shaver said. "Sometimes they do -- they just decide they don't want to be a guide dog. That's when they'll career change them and put them in another career."

The pups were a huge hit at the airport, with lots of people taking a moment to pet them or say hi. And while they’re working hard at learning the proper protocol for flying, the pups, and the puppy trainers, know they’ll have a very meaningful mission to complete. There could also be some tears at the end of their year together.

"I've loved having him," puppy raiser Carrie Trammell said. "I love taking him places, and when we went to the school we got to see how it impacted someone's life -- someone who got a guide dog, so it's really worth it."

News4Jax asked the puppy raiser Nicole Trammell if she was going to need Kleenex the day she turns him in.

"Absolutely," Nicole Trammell said as she laughed. "When I turned Ted in, I cried for about a month straight afterward. It was hard, but you getting the dog, you know, the purpose in life is far and greater than just to be my pet, so it's doable."

The puppies range in age from 10 weeks to 1 year old.


When it comes to security, officials at JIA work to ‘harden the target’

March 19, 2017
Cassidy Alexander

Two or three times a week, authorities are called to investigate reports of suspicious people at Jacksonville International Airport. Calls about unattended luggage are nearly constant, they say.

“[Police] don’t mind investigating 100 false reports,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said, “because you never know when there’s going to be one real one.”

A 2013 incident at JIA was real enough. A man walked up to a TSA agent and said, “I got a bomb here.” Before it could be determined that he didn’t, hundreds of people had been evacuated and two-dozen flights canceled or rerouted.

Grossman, who oversees the entire Jacksonville airport system, said his staff continually participates in training exercises and communicates with other security agencies. The goal is to discourage JIA from being targeted in the first place.

“We basically try and harden the target, so to speak, and make it so that a terrorist will think twice before attacking us,” he said.

“Putting it bluntly, if a terrorist comes to the airport, he or she will probably carry out some terrorist activity,” Grossman said. “Our force will stop a person like that, but probably not before they’ve done something.

“You stop it via intelligence,” he said. “You don’t stop it when it pulls up to the terminal.”

Preparing for the worst

Jacksonville International was one of the first airports of its size to have an active shooter drill, Grossman said. The exercise held about 18 months ago involved 400 employees and volunteers, both within and outside the airport. Everyone had a chance to interact and see how things would play out in an actual emergency.

“When the firing started,” Grossman said, “I know I shook a bit.”

The drill was designed to prepare officials for the type of lone-gunman attack that has been seen in isolated incidents at major U.S. airports in recent years.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, a man opened fire in a baggage claim area. Five people were killed and more than 30 were injured.

On Nov. 1, 2013, a man moved through a terminal at LAX for 10 minutes with an assault rifle. He shot a TSA officer several times, killing him, before injuring three others.

A collaborative process

Grossman said all airport employees go through annual security training, consisting of an hour-long class, a background check and drills. There’s an on-site police force that works closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and other agencies for support and services it doesn’t have.

Aviation-security expert and professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver Jeffrey Price said it’s typical of smaller commercial airports like Jacksonville to rely on outside agencies for support.

“I think with Jacksonville, and every airport that size, I think a lot of them just do what they can,” Price said. “It comes down many times to how much time in the day is there. They have a lot of other things they have to manage.”

According to Price, airports in major cities are more likely to be targeted by terrorists.

“While [a terrorist attack is] unlikely in these smaller airports,” Price said, “I’d never want to say it’s impossible.”

Part of preparing to respond to all types of situations is examining what went wrong when an attack does happen at an airport.

“It’s always better to learn from other people’s mistakes than our own,” Grossman said.

Agencies share information about security measures and what works best. When incidents like those in Fort Lauderdale and at LAX do happen, there are discussions to see what lessons can be learned.

“We have to react to the latest threat that we didn’t anticipate or didn’t do enough about, but we always have to predict the next time,” Price said.

Continuous training and examining how to prevent attacks is only part of the safety system airports have in place – the help of the traveling public makes up a large component.

“If you’re at the airport,” Grossman said, “you’re part of that security program.”


What Do a CEO, an Airport and Golf Have In Common?

March 14, 2017

For Florida’s First Coast, golf and aviation are two symbiotic industries here—both are welcoming, and both are constantly connecting people. Recently we connected with Steve Grossman, Chief Executive Officer of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA), to talk about a golfer’s airport in a golfer’s destination.

A Golfer’s Airport
Ranked first in the nation—among over 300 airports worldwide—for the Airport Service Quality Awards in 2016-2017, the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) has become the benchmark for customer service in the aviation industry.
Aside from being one of the most hospitable airports in the country, JAX is one of the most attractive airports for golfers flying in.

Here’s why:
No schlepping of golf clubs
Golfers don’t have to shuttle equipment or clubs. Ground transportation services are adjacent to baggage claim, making it convenient for golfers to land, go and golf. JAX is within close proximity to numerous golf courses.
(Jokingly) “My golf bag is full of all the things that don’t always work for me...but currently I have a Callaway Driver, 3-Wood, TaylorMade Hybrids and Irons and my Odyssey Putter in my bag.”

An airport with a golf mentality
Sam Snead’s Tavern, the PGA TOUR Grill (coming in Spring 2017) and the PGA TOUR Shop—where the Players have periodic book and autograph signings—pays homage to Floridians’ love of the game.

Grab and go…then golf
For travelers, there isn’t much of a desire for an over-abundance of time at the airport. Some hub airports provide golf simulators and other time killers to fill a three-hour layover; JAX is accessible with over 82 daily inbound flights, and is conveniently located near numerous golf courses. No need for fancy time fillers here….the real golf is waiting.
A Golfer’s Destination
“During Florida’s shoulder and off seasons, the strengths of our area are: 1. Golf  2. Eco-Tourism. During these seasons, if travelers aren’t coming on business, they are coming for golf or eco-tourism.”
Jacksonville has the most diverse economy in the state of Florida and Northeast Florida gives travelling golfers accessibility to several courses. Recently Florida’s First Coast of Golf was awarded the 2017 North American Golf Destination of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).
Florida’s First Coast is one of the most attractive destinations for golfers.

Here’s why:

North Florida is home to THE PLAYERS Championship, one of the PGA Tour’s most coveted titles. The newly renovated Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass—Ponte Vedra’s most ambitious renovation project—this year, is now opened.

“For most of my life, “Arnie” was always my favorite golfer. I actually got to meet and speak with him at the First Tee Open in Pebble Beach in Monterey. Present day, I really enjoy watching Bubba Watson.”

You can easily afford to be a member of a nice course compared to the expensive offerings on the West Coast and other high-end locations. Golfers can pick their price point and play where they want.

Access of courses
For the most part, traversing locally from course to course typically takes around half an hour or less. Northeast Florida is home to numerous courses. You can take your pick from over 75 miles of coastal golf courses or play the same courses played by THE PLAYERS Championship, PGA and Champions Tour.

Diversity of courses
Northeast Florida provides golfers with access to pristine public and private courses—all are well maintained and offer a diversity of course options. The public courses here are pristine, offering beautiful cart rides through native live oak forests, dripping with spanish moss and large palm ground cover, and native florida wetlands.
“I play most of my golf at Deerwood Country Club but I also enjoy Pablo Creek Club, Palencia Club, Timuquana Country Club and several other public access courses. I like to play early… and often.  If I get the chance, I try to play every Saturday and get in about 100 rounds a year.”
Both golf and aviation connect people, but Northeast Florida golf and aviation connect people to true, one-of-a-kind experiences.

We’d like to thank Steve Grossman for sitting down with us to talk golf and flight! For traveler information, upcoming developments and more about the award-winning Jacksonville International Airport, visit here.


Air Canada to provide daily service from JAX Airport to Toronto this summer

Feb 7, 2017
Junior Skepple,Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority announced Monday that beginning June 14 Air Canada will offer daily non-stop flights to Toronto. This is an expansion of their current weekend-only service, which started May 2016.

The flights, offered once a day, provide customers with connections to European and other Canadian cities.

The updated schedule is now reflected on the Air Canada website.


Jacksonville International Airport Economy Lot 2 closed for overhaul

January 30, 2017
By Drew Dixon

One of the economy parking lots at Jacksonville International Airport is now closed for several months.

The Jacksonville International Aviation Authority in a prepared statement Monday said Economy Lot 2 has been shut down. The closure is in preparation for a new parking system that’s being installed at JIA.

Signage on Pecan Park Road will provide detours for travelers arriving at the airport. Most using economy parking will be directed to Economy Lot 1 which will remain operational as the new parking system is implemented.

Economy Lot 2 is only one of five public parking lots that will undergo the system overhaul at JIA that will range from replacement of gates, equipment payment systems.

Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098.


Jacksonville International Airport closes a public parking lot for upgrades

Jan 30, 2017
Junior Skepple, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

One of the five public parking facilities at Jacksonville International Airport is now closed for renovations. The closure is expected to last several months.

Economy Lot 2 is closed in preparation for the installation of a new parking system. Improvements include replacement of all gates and equipment, ability to integrate with SunPass and easy payment using a pay-on-foot station in the terminal or upon exit. In addition, a new license plate recognition system will confirm parking time in the event of a lost ticket.

Once all vehicles exit the lot, crews will clean debris before the project begins in March.

Signage placed along Pecan Park Road will direct customers to park in Economy Lot 1 (E-1), which has parking spaces available. Free shuttle service between E-1 and the terminal will continue to operate as normal.

Anyone with questions or concerns may call the parking office at 904.741.2277.


Jacksonville International Airport launches new app

Jan 23, 2017
Junior Skepple, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

The Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) launched their new “JAX AIRPORT” app, Monday.

The free app, available for both Android and iOS devices, is the hub for all things Jacksonville International Airport.

The app provides flight information, interactive maps, airport news and much more.

The app also lists shops and restaurants at JAX and shows maps of the ticketing, baggage claim and gate areas.

“We strive to enhance the airport experience for our passengers,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said. “With so many people using mobile devices, an airport-specific app seemed to fill a need.”

The app was developed to meet the needs of passengers desiring information on-the-go.

Ticket booking is not yet available through the app, but the app states this feature is coming soon.