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Private air travel in Florida is up, contributing to crowded skies

Palm Beach International Airport had 14,339 private, charter flights in March
Posted at 5:05 PM, May 05, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Aviation experts said an increase in private air travel is contributing to high air traffic.

It comes at a time when flight delays are common in Florida, which prompted a meeting between the Federal Aviation Administration and several airlines this week.  

"[There has been] a lot more folks at the airport, a lot more people on the airplanes," J.D. Deboskey, a commercial airline pilot told WPTV.  

It’s no secret. Air travel is in high demand right now.  

RELATED: FAA offers fix for snarled Florida air travel this summer

"It's getting back to what it was before the pandemic," Deboskey said. "With the lack of travel, now what we see is people surging to get back out and go fly around."

 J.D. Deboskey, private pilot
J.D. Deboskey discusses the surge in aircraft taking flight in Florida, creating crowded skies.

On top of that surge, flight delays are up all over the country, especially here in Florida.  

"When you're flying around in the traffic pattern, not only are there more commercial jets flying around, but there's a lot more private jets and smaller airplanes," Deboskey said.  

At Palm Beach International Airport, there were 14,339 private and charter flights in March. A spokesperson for PBIA told WPTV that a majority of those flights were private.  

"Starting last June, June of 2021, private aviation started to hit record levels," Doug Gollan, the founder and editor in chief of Private Jet Comparisons said.  

Gollan said Florida has become an epicenter for private and aviation growth.  

Doug Gollan, founder and editor in chief of Private Jet Comparisons
Doug Gollan calls Florida an epicenter for private and aviation growth.

"That's just a reflection of the state opened for business pretty quickly. The hotels opened, restaurants were open," Gollan said.  

The FAA says weather, staffing issues and a significant increase in SpaceX launches have contributed to the increase in delays.  

When the rockets go up, travel in and around Cape Canaveral must be suspended.  

The FAA met with several major airlines in Florida earlier this week to discuss high air travel in and out of Florida.  

The FAA sent WPTV the following statement after the meeting:  

The FAA had a productive meeting with around a dozen airlines, general aviation representatives and associations to find solutions to meet the growing demand in Florida. Participants said demand will continue to increase past 2019 levels.

In the short-term, the FAA will share information more frequently about airspace events. The agency will also work with stakeholders to develop a playbook to keep aircraft moving safely when weather, space launches or other events constrain capacity. The FAA will increase the ability for airlines to keep aircraft moving during these events by using alternate routes and altitudes when possible. 

During the meeting, the FAA asked the users to share anticipated growth at destinations across the country so the agency can prepare to match demand. Because representatives said Florida operations will continue increasing past 2019 levels, the FAA will immediately increase the number of authorized staff at Jacksonville Center and evaluate other Florida facilities.  

The agency will continue meeting with all users of the Florida airspace throughout the summer to continually improve the operational efficiency of the system.

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