The airport's director disclosed they are courting Allegiant Air.
The Daytona Beach International Airport market is underserved, the Volusia County Council was told by consultants on Tuesday, Aug. 6, who also stated this was an opportunity for growth.
The presentation occurred just before the council approved a $1 daily parking rate increase for both short-term and long-term parking at airport, which the agenda summary item stated would result in an additional $190,411 estimated airport revenue. The rate adjustment — from $11 short-term maximum daily rate to $12, and from $14 long-term maximum daily rate to $15 —will be in effect come Oct. 1.
Mead and Hunt consultants Doug Blissit and Joseph Pickering addressed the loss of both JetBlue and the most recent Silver Airways. Blissit said the JetBlue service to John F. Kennedy International Airport was a success, but that because the carrier lost money in the second quarter of 2018 and was under competitive pressure to restructure, Daytona became a "sacrificial lamb" in the process.
Silver Airways expected to see an immediate profit, Blissit said, and while the market was ramping up to the airport's expectations, that didn't match Silver Airways'. He said the airline, which received $100,000 in incentives during its time servicing Daytona, had canceled over 60% of the markets that it served over the last five years.
“There are many, many more opportunities out there that we think have great, significant investment opportunity for the airlines and for this markets, and we don’t want those two service suspensions to cast a spell on overall Daytona beach opportunities going forward," Blissit said.
County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler asked why the airport would provide an incentive package for an airline with those service cancellation statistics. Airport Director Rick Karl said they will vet risk assessments better in the future, and that this was a learning experience. Moving forward, Karl said the airport will try to make sure incentives are in line with the potential risks.
“It was risky, but we’re in business and we have to take some risks," Karl said. "I would say it was worth trying.”
Pickering said there are small successes that have happened along the way, such as adding a new flight to an existing market or bringing in a larger aircraft. One of the challenges Daytona Beach faces is that many residents are willing to drive to the Orlando International Airport for cheaper airfare and nonstop flights.
“We’re out there selling the Daytona Beach story, is what we’re doing, and in order to do that we have to keep these incentives competitive," Pickering said.
Karl said the airport is continuing to chase budget airlines, one of which is Allegiant Air. Representatives from the airline are scheduled to come in for a future site visit.