New Airport’s Average Flight is 39% Less

One of the big things supporters wanted out of the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport was lower fares.  And lower fares we received.  The average per ticket fare at the old airport (PFN) was a whopping $583.  The average per ticket fare at the new airport (ECP) is $354.  Of course, that’s not to say, if you keep an eye on the deals you can’t find one of Southwest’s famous $50 trips.

ECP Airfare Costs Comparison

Before the new airport, Panama City’s airfare costs were second to the highest in the state of Florida.  Now we fall right in the middle.

Average Airfare 2009

Airport Code Airport Average Fare
MCO Orlando International 232.82
FLL Fort Lauderdale International 235.19
TPA Tampa International 261.58
JAX Jacksonville International 282.04
PNS Pensacola Regional 379.20
TLH Tallahassee Regional 411.55
VPS Northwest Florida Regional 505.66
PFN Panama City-Bay County International 583.44
DHN Dothan Regional 769.35

Average Airfare 2010

Airport Code Airport Average Fare
MCO Orlando International 245.48
FLL Fort Lauderdale International 247.05
TPA Tampa International 284.50
JAX Jacksonville International 306.94
ECP Northwest Florida Beaches International 354.89
PNS Pensacola Regional 375.26
TLH Tallahassee Regional 457.31
VPS Northwest Florida Regional 496.58
PFN Panama City-Bay County International 579.71
DHN Dothan Regional 753.86
Current Traffic and Future Forecasts

In addition to lower fares, traffic is way up as well.  On average, the new airport is passing almost triple the number of people the old airport did consistently each month.  Here’s a snapshot of some of the existing numbers and future projections of passenger traffic growth.

Year Passengers Percent Change
2009 312,540
2010 649,018 107.7%
2011 858,931 32.3%
2012 916,800 6.7%
2013 948,888 3.5%

2009 market share for our airport was a measly 9.1%.  Current market share for the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport has more than doubled to 22.1%.

Airport Passengers Market Share
Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional 627,053 38.8%
Northwest Florida Regional 382,715 23.7%
Northwest Florida Beaches International 345,231 21.3%
Tallahassee Regional 261,878 16.2%
Total 1,616,877 100.0%


Total number of flights

8 SWA departures and arrivals – 16 total flights – 7,657 seats per week

10 Delta departures and arrivals – 20 total flights – 5,135 seats per week

Thoughts, comments?

What are your thoughts on the new airport.  Have you flown out of it?  What are your impressions on it?  Was your fare lower?


26 thoughts on “New Airport’s Average Flight is 39% Less

  1. I’d fly down to PCB so much more often if there were great deals originating in Toronto or even Buffalo. We have a condo in PCB and would love to visit frequently, but it’s still not affordable to fly – especially w/kids.


  2. Southwest or Delta need to add non stop flights from St. Louis and Chicago. I’ve been in and out of the new airport several times but it is a hassle to get there from St. Louis. It’s not reasonably priced either. I have been on Southwest and Delta and none of the connections are convienient. It takes 13 hours to drive and the better part of 10 hours to fly and it is at least $400 more for 2 people.


    1. Well it’s much cheaper and more convenient for me. I live in Vancouver so there’s no fast and easy way to get to PCB from here. But driving to Seattle and taking Southwest has been a huge bonus for us, especially cost wise. We’ve had 3 of us go there and back for a little over $1,000 if you pick you times right.


  3. Well we have to fly out of cvg…Greater cincinnati, and Delta rapes us.
    I agree with some of these other people, You still have to stop in atlanta
    and by the time you take in the account of being at the airport 2 hours early
    then the flights with layover its about 7 1/2 hours
    I can drive it in 9 1/2.
    last year and the past 5 years we only paid 250, avg. to fly into the old pfn
    but the new ecg has been closer to 510. then when you add 400 for car rental
    your at 1400 before you even get to your hotel.
    I wish south west would start flying out of cvg .
    but for now ill just drive, its 710 miles and like i said i can usally do it in less than 10 hours.


  4. We live in Michigan and have a condo in PCB. The drive is 15 hours but we usually fly. We have done well with Southwest fare sales during non-peak times from DTW to ECP. This fall we are booked at $90 each way. Delta has a major hub in Detroit so the competition has been good. There are no non-stops but even with layover in Nashville (SW) or Memphis (Delta), total travel time is less than four hours. We have truly enjoyed the new airport but auto rental rates are outrageous. Rental rates drop significantly when pickup is not at the airport but that is a hassle.


  5. we have flown down 3 times this year, it is so convenient to get to, and get to the beaches.
    47 minutes in the air from nashville. $79 each way… WOW.
    heading back again in October, each time the plane has been full.
    its still more cost effective to drive with kids, but hey, the beaches are full in the summer and spring break anyway… seems to me that the real value of the airline is bringing adult groups down, in shoulder seasons, to go eat, drink, play golf, fish, and spend money in the local economy…
    since we can now get to PCB and Destin faster than we can get to the mountains we are planning October and November trips to the beach that we would not have done in years past..


  6. In the same boat as Tony (here in Michigan). We have used the new airport to go from PCB to Orlando and will be using it from Detroit to PCB in the fall. Need better competition for transportation at the airport (way too expensive). Should have the trolley stop there like other major airports, link the public transportation system up to it.


  7. Hi Jason,

    Quite an article with impressive statistics! Do you have any information about new airlines which plan to come to ECP? When ECP was in its formative stages, I heard that Lufthansa Airlines was going to provide international service to Germany; what is the status of that? How does ECP qualify as an international airport?

    Thank you in advance for your response.



  8. Fares may be lower, however they are by no means LOW! For example, as of this email a DELTA round-trip flight for two to Phoenix originating from one of the three local airports, PNS (Pensacola), VPS (Okaloosa Regional), and ECP (Beaches International) varies as much as $140, with ECP being the highest priced of the three. There really isn’t a good reason for this other than greed, in that all three of these flights (PNS, VPS, ECP) stop in Atlanta and from that point, all three of these flights continue of the SAME EXACT flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. Frankly, if these fares were cost-driven, then PNS is the farthest from Atlanta, consequetly requiring the greatest amount of jet fuel to reach, and should therefore ahve the highest fares.


  9. The new airport has been a savings for our family since its opening! Just to give you a recent example, my son needed to visit someone in Memphis so I checked our local Dothan Airport for a round trip ticket. It was going to be over $1,100.00. Then I checked the new Panama City airport and a round trip was about $300.00! Of course you know which we took!


  10. Hold on. You are comparing old airport to new airpost when you should be comparing Without Southwest Airlines vs. With Southwest. Same results would have resulted if Sothwest Airlines was asked to come to the old airport. Were thay asked. I bet not.


  11. I am one of the lucky ones who get to fly free on buddy passes. I fly to Nashville often to see my sister. The flight is one hour and 15 minutes….I just take me book out and have a soda and we are landing in Nashville…HOW COOL IS THAT??? And they are soooo friendly. You go Southwest.


  12. I have just checked from Nashville BNA to PCB Airport round trip for me and my hubby would be $615.80 total. (Southwest) Then rental auto for one week: 250.99 economy size.
    That is 866.79 plus hidden costs that we would need to pay besides our condo for Sept. vacation, 1 week at Aqua……… 750.00
    I see where some of you are getting good deals and that is wonderful!
    If I could fly there for $90.00 each way….. I would probably do it!
    Happy Flights to all of you!
    Cathy/ Tennessee


  13. One fact has been overlooked. St. Joe has subsidized these lower ticket prices!

    That has obviously resulted in more fliers. You can’t accurately compare the old airport numbers to the new because the old airport was not subsidized.

    I am glad the numbers are all up, but you need to be honest about the real causes.

    And what is the deal with the rental car rates? Some of the highest in Florida.


    1. When you say “subsidizing”, to what are you referring to?

      Subsidizing refers to monetary support from one party to another. While there is an agreement that St. Joe compensates Southwest Airlines for any losses they incur while operating at ECP, I’ve been told that Southwest has operated at a profit from day one.

      Do you know of any “subsidy” payment taking place from St. Joe to Southwest?


      1. Subsidizing refers to southwest charging ticket prices at a loss and St Joe picks up the difference.

        I am not privy to St. Joe’s financial dealings with Southwest so no I do not personally know of any payments. Nor have I seen any public statements from either company that they are not being made.

        But I do know that selling tickets at a loss to stimulate traffic in a new market is standard operating procedure for Southwest (and most any other airline).

        Past practices of what airlines do when they enter a new market is what I base my statements on. And the fact that that they are guaranteed against any losses on those seats. And the fact that other airlines have to match those lower (subsidized?) prices to stay in the market long term.

        But since you have been told otherwise by someone that must be privy to Southwest’s condifidential dealings with St Joe, then I guess I must be wrong.


  14. If only an airline would get a direct flight from Indianapolis to the new airport we would use their airline every few months but as of now driving the 12 hours is easier than flying with the possible delays. Never going to grow like Fort Myers until more convenient direct flights become available.


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