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Taeks
Topic Author
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:02 pm

PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:35 pm

Pensacola International Airport (PNS) and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) airports are roughly 60 miles apart, but each are growing substantially.
Surely both airports are bound to reap the benefits of pandemic fatigued passengers seeking the beach and both cities offer cheap beach vacation getaways.
PNS will add Spirit Airlines to its roster of airlines this summer bringing its total to 8 airlines.
VPS has 6 airlines with it serving as a focus city for Allegiant.
My question, do you think there is enough demand between the two airports so close to each other to survive long-term?
 
IAHFLYR
Posts: 4383
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:10 pm

I sure do, it's FL beach locations which are beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast as are almost each and every one of the Gulf Coast beaches all the way south to Marco Island.

TPA and SRQ, less than 60 miles apart.

Look at SRQ and RSW, 70 miles apart and both are thriving though RSW has a larger footprint. You've also go PDG which is 28 miles from RSW and Allegiant keeps growing it or at least staying level.
 
TWA902fly
Posts: 3168
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 1999 5:47 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:57 pm

There are quite a few airports between MSY and TLH along the coast, all of which have decent amounts of service, which so far appears to be sustainable. Seems that people just want to fly to the closest point to where they're staying, and even if an extra 40 miles of driving is avoidable, they do so.

GPT - Gulfport/Biloxi
MOB - Mobile International
BFM - previous service by Frontier, not sure if that's coming back post-COVID
PNS - Pensecola
VPS - Fort Walton Beach
ECP - Northwest Florida Beaches/Panama CIty

MSY-GPT 77 miles
GPT-MOB 53 miles
MOB-PNS 65 miles
PNS-VPS 39 miles
VPS-ECP 44 miles
ECP-TLH 86 miles

'902

(Edit to add distances between airport)
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 9883
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:05 pm

IAHFLYR wrote:

TPA and SRQ, less than 60 miles apart.


Tampa's a real city, not just a beach.
 
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LAX772LR
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:10 pm

These markets also have an enormous local drive-in component, from which their fly-in traffic is fairly segregated. That IMO also has to help quite a bit.
 
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FLALEFTY
Posts: 1060
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:21 pm

Taeks wrote:
Pensacola International Airport (PNS) and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) airports are roughly 60 miles apart, but each are growing substantially.
Surely both airports are bound to reap the benefits of pandemic fatigued passengers seeking the beach and both cities offer cheap beach vacation getaways.
PNS will add Spirit Airlines to its roster of airlines this summer bringing its total to 8 airlines.
VPS has 6 airlines with it serving as a focus city for Allegiant.
My question, do you think there is enough demand between the two airports so close to each other to survive long-term?


To throw a curve into this, Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) in Gulf Shores, AL has been fishing around for Federal money to upgrade the ramps and terminal building to attract LCC's and charters. It is located 32 (air) miles southwest from PNS, 33 (air) miles from BFM (Mobile Downtown) and is within a few minutes of the beach resorts.

Even the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in 2010 could not keep these Gulf resort areas down as things eventually got cleaned up. Given their close proximity to large Southern cities such as Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham and Memphis, plus the area's popularity with Midwesterners, it is easy to understand its resurgence over the last decade. However, the North-South roadways into this region are pretty scattered and tend to be tough drives, so flying in makes sense. And with the relaxed attitude of local governments in this region towards COVID prevention measures, this has been an especially strong time for tourism along the Northern Gulf Coast.
 
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chunhimlai
Posts: 720
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:27 pm

While PNS is lack of room for expansion and VPS operation may interrupt military activities, why not to build a new airport to serve both destination?

PS: there is an unused airfield (30.5080996, -86.9553766) located between two cities and there is enough room for expansion
 
Antarius
Posts: 3436
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:27 pm

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:43 pm

chunhimlai wrote:
While PNS is lack of room for expansion and VPS operation may interrupt military activities, why not to build a new airport to serve both destination?

PS: there is an unused airfield (30.5080996, -86.9553766) located between two cities and there is enough room for expansion


Because these airports target O&D customers. Building a new airport far away doesn't serve the target market.
 
GSPSPOT
Posts: 2633
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2003 1:44 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:53 pm

The city/county of Mobile are planning (at least pre-covid) to move all commercial operations to a new terminal at BFM eventually. Smart move, as it may re-capture Eastern Shore pax leakage who now use PNS vs driving literally all the way through the city of Mobile on surface streets.
 
MIAFLLPBIFlyer
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:02 am

MIflyer12 wrote:
IAHFLYR wrote:

TPA and SRQ, less than 60 miles apart.


Tampa's a real city, not just a beach.


PNS is an older and more historic city than TPA.


As for VPS, no doubt that's almost all beach traffic, but PNS is a proper, historic city in its own right, one of Florida's most important cities through the generations. Plenty of business and VFR travel in/out of PNS.
 
deltairlines
Posts: 7237
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 4:47 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:13 am

MIflyer12 wrote:
IAHFLYR wrote:

TPA and SRQ, less than 60 miles apart.


Tampa's a real city, not just a beach.


TPA and SRQ are also growing at a crazy rate to support this growth. I've had a house in Lakewood Ranch for five years. The amount of growth there (and in the greater Sarasota area) has been insane; Tampa has also been one of the fastest growing major metro areas in the nation in the past decade (I think something like 20%). From what I know about the Gulf Shores, they've seen growth, but not as much as the area I-75 corridor between Tampa and Ft. Myers.
 
FlyPNS1
Posts: 5550
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 1999 7:12 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:15 am

Yes I think both airports can survive and grow. Both have not only beaches but the growing local population which helps too. The Pensacola MSA is close to 500k and Destin-Fort Walton is close to 300k. Plus, some of this is really just shifting traffic from drive-in to fly-in. These markets were historically drive-in markets for tourists, but that is changing with lower fares and more direct flights stimulating traffic.

That said, not all the service will likely be sustainable. There are some routes that are getting crowded...like DFW-PNS and BNA-VPS. Plus, the area requires big seasonal adjustments as January is quite cold.
 
Taeks
Topic Author
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:02 pm

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:22 am

Both Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach are big military towns. Perhaps that plays a factor as well to O&D traffic.
 
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Moose135
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Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:24 am

chunhimlai wrote:
While PNS is lack of room for expansion and VPS operation may interrupt military activities, why not to build a new airport to serve both destination?

PS: there is an unused airfield (30.5080996, -86.9553766) located between two cities and there is enough room for expansion


It's not an unused airfield. It is Choctaw Naval Outlying Field, used for training:

https://www.airnav.com/airport/KNFJ
 
kbmiflyer
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2004 11:47 pm

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 2:20 am

I think both airports will continue to grow. The panhandle beach communities continue to see a boom in both tourist and people buying homes / condos. In addition, as has been mentioned, both airport have good military feeds which includes nearby private businesses with military contracts.

Speaking of military, is there a limit on the number of passengers operations allowed at VPS? With the new Allegiant terminal along with WN coming in and what seems to be AA continued expansion, the number of daily flights especially on Saturday's is going to be getting pretty high.
 
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Boiler905
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:05 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 4:31 am

Moose135 wrote:
chunhimlai wrote:
While PNS is lack of room for expansion and VPS operation may interrupt military activities, why not to build a new airport to serve both destination?

PS: there is an unused airfield (30.5080996, -86.9553766) located between two cities and there is enough room for expansion


It's not an unused airfield. It is Choctaw Naval Outlying Field, used for training:

https://www.airnav.com/airport/KNFJ


I think this has already been done with the creation of ECP, right?
 
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chunhimlai
Posts: 720
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:03 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:02 am

Antarius wrote:
chunhimlai wrote:
While PNS is lack of room for expansion and VPS operation may interrupt military activities, why not to build a new airport to serve both destination?

PS: there is an unused airfield (30.5080996, -86.9553766) located between two cities and there is enough room for expansion


Because these airports target O&D customers. Building a new airport far away doesn't serve the target market.


The new airfield is 30mins drive to Pensacola downtown and 40mins to Destin downtown
 
IAHFLYR
Posts: 4383
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:38 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
IAHFLYR wrote:

TPA and SRQ, less than 60 miles apart.


Tampa's a real city, not just a beach.


You might have just hit on something! :stirthepot: Though not quite sure any mention of the cities along the Gulf Coast refers to them being only a beach. Anyway yes I agree they are all cities, some larger and more vibrant than others, yet still fairly close in location.
 
BowlingShoeDC9
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:18 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:57 pm

It’s easy to say that these airports are too close, but when you have a limited time to enjoy yourself on vacation, have to deal with the hordes of over people in the Destin area, and add that on top of about 60 mile drive, the segmentation of the area begins to make sense. I’m pretty sure it ends up being well over an hour drive apart from each other. Destin traffic is absolutely awful in peak tourism times.
 
airbazar
Posts: 10432
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:12 pm

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:39 pm

The problem is not weather to sustain growth during the Pandemic. The question is whether this growth will last post Pandemic.
Right now intl travel is on hold for all intents and purposes but many people, myself included still want our beach vacation. So instead of our usual trip to the Caribbean, it's a lot less hassle to stay domestic. I can tell you that without a Pandemic I wouldn't even look at these destinations as an option for a beach vacation.
 
CIDFlyer
Posts: 2211
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:19 am

Re: PNS vs. VPS

Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:42 pm

As someone who’s parents have wintered in Orange Beach nearby for 23 years I’m familiar with both airports. Once I flew into VPS but it is quite a drive from there to the west side of Pensacola. The growth I’ve witnessed at both airports over the last 20 years is incredible. I used to have to make a double connection and fly a prop from MEM to PNS and only 50 seaters used to fly between DFW and VPS on AA and now this route sees mainline sometimes and larger RJs. I even remember when ATL-VPS had some prop equipment. This is a beautiful area that’s finally been discovered and will only keep on growing as a destination and even a snowbird haven as more baby boomers retire.

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