Seasonal air service from Pensacola to Newark, New Jersey kicked off Thursday at Pensacola International Airport, with the first flight arriving amid much pomp and circumstance.
As the passengers from United Airlines’ UA Flight 3638 landed, the flight was saluted with a water cannon from the Pensacola Fire Department. As they made their way into the terminal, members of the local Chamber of Commerce and others handed out treats and “goody bags.”
A short time before arrival, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and other local officials cut the ribbon at the new United ticket office -- officially welcoming the airline.
The Mayor spoke over the terminal’s public address system.
“We are picking up our 20th direct [flight] city; we’re very excited about now having direct service to New York,” said Robinson. “It is our fifth largest destination, and so we’ve been for a long time without direct service….we’re certainly glad to get it here.”
Later, the Mayor said the flights will enable passengers from the Tri-State Area – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – a way to come here for business, pleasure, or both – and provide an as-yet to be determined boost to the local economy.
“It’s hard to say; I mean certainly the ability for the number of people that you see that are flying back and forth – certainly from a tourist standpoint,” said Robinson. “But who knows what the opportunity might be from a business standpoint as we move into the future.”
And United’s new presence, says the Mayor, likely will open doors for other air services to locate in Pensacola.
“New York had been one of our top-five cities in market destination; so now with the fact that we have the direct flight, I think you’re just going to see a greater connection between those two,” said Robinson. “And certainly a worldwide financial center like New York – having the ability to have direct access is going to be a great thing for our community.”
Some may be thinking, “But its Newark.” You can still get to New York from there; and according to Miranda Agostini with United Airlines, you can get there faster and easier compared to JFK and LaGuardia.
“It offers the ease of getting into Manhattan quickly and easily,” said Agostini. “There’s many different options. You can take the train, there are buses, and of course there are taxis and Uber as well. Pretty much all of the different options can get you into Manhattan within [a] maximum of 40 minutes.”
As mentioned, United’s flights from Newark to Pensacola – for now – are “seasonal” – running from June through October.
“Basically, we ramp up our service during the summer months to be able to really serve our clients as well as possible throughout – not only the United States but throughout the world,” Agostini says. “And summer’s really hot months for us.”
Newark’s non-stop to and from Pensacola joins other daily non-stops from here to Houston Intercontinental and Chicago O'Hare. Pensacola is one of 22 new routes United Airlines plans to add in 2019.