How Will New Panama City Airport Affect Tallahassee and Valdosta?

We are always looking for the best fares when we fly. And some of us are willing to drive hours to Jacksonville, Orlando, or Tampa to save a few bucks.

But with the new Panama City International airport ready to open in May, how many travelers from our area will head West---and how will another travel option affect the Tallahassee and Valdosta?

"We're going to be not only a drive market but a global market for tourism," said Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO Beth Oltman.

That is what folks at the new Panama City International airport are hoping for. A new airport, bringing in a new wave of tourists from around the U.S. any beyond.

And they plan to do it with the arrival of Southwest Airlines. Serving four cities a day, Southwest is a major coup for Panama City--a new wave of competition for both the Tallahassee and Valdosta regional airports.

"Obviously competition is a good American asset here and we hope to get better rates here and pull in more people to this entire area," said Oltman.

"Anytime you have Southwest in the market, it'll keep everybody competitive. As an airport, we don't truly have control per say over pricing," said Patti Clark, Executive Director of the Valdosta Regional Airport.

Tallahassee and Valdosta pride themselves on business travelers. That is the clientele they hope to keep. What they stand to lose are the tourists who will now have another option---an option that wasn't always there before.

"We've been the poster child for higher airfares and how not to do it. Throughout the Panhandle," said Randy Curtis, Executive Director of the new Panama City International Airport, "Traditionally we've had the highest airfare, so we have had the situation where our passengers drive to other airports, even Tallahassee."

Officials from both Tallahassee and Valdosta regional airports feel that the new Panama City airport will actually help in the long run. Both airports hope to benefit as folks check out the entire North Florida and South Georgia region--pouring money into attractions in the capital city, Valdosta and cities in between.

"As the Panama City area develops and their leisure market increases and the other opportunities for economic development are there; there is a possibility based on analysis our consultants have done that it could spill into Tallahassee from an economic perspective," said Phil Inglese, Assistant Director of Aviation at Tallahassee Regional Airport, "We look at it as an overall positive for the region. "

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:05 AM
    It will be no different than it is now except I will have one more airport to choose from.It is all according to where I'm going,and the cheapest way and most efficient way to get there.Sometimes it is better to fly out of Valdosta,sometimes it's better to drive to Tallahassee,sometimes it's better to drive to Jacksonville,and sometimes it's even better to fly to Atlanta.
  • by Ebenezer Scrooge on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:43 AM
    The new airport is one more example of "socialism for the rich." The taxpayers were squeezed for millions of dollars so that real-estate moguls in Bay County can get rich selling McMansions. The same people who backed this, however, scream bloody murder is a working stiff gets government help for low-cost health insurance, and pour their money into electing Repub's who will keep the ordinary folks in their place. It's an old story: poor lady gets $100 for groceries, "That's socialsim!" But if a wealthy real estate developer gets $100 million to build an airport, "That's the American way!"
  • by Philip Location: Tallahassee on Feb 11, 2010 at 07:15 AM
    I'm thinking Tallahassee flyers will not choose Panama City airport over either TLH or JAX. For one thing, the new PC airport is 2 hours (at best) by car via US Highway 20--and it is two lanes all the way. (I know-I just drove it recently.) If you're a Southwest fan, you're probably going to drive an extra 1/2 hour to JAX via I-10 where there are non-stop options and fares are cheaper. If, like me, you have points on Delta and American, you're going to fly out of TLH. Driving to JAX for these carriers does not make economic sense. The fares are not much different, and American now has wonderful service to California and other western states with great connections through Dallas. TLH has quicker parking, shorter security lines, and smaller jets with quicker turnarounds. TLH is also a short 10 minute drive from home-or cab ride if you're going for more than a week. I do not think this new airport is going to change things for TLH. I certainly won't use it.
  • by shadow on Feb 11, 2010 at 03:29 AM
    I will use it before I pay the prices at Tallahassee Airport.
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