For almost a year, Elite Airways has offered nonstop service to Newark from Vero Beach. 11,000 people have made that choice, far exceeding expectations.
“Vero Beach has been our number one performing market up to greater New York area. We fly to Newark and we’ve had to increase our service because of the customer response," said Elite Airways CEO John Pearsall.
Commercial service had been missing from the Treasure Coast since American Eagle pulled out in 1996. When Elite wanted in, the city had to upgrade the terminal, making a significant investment in security upgrades.
“We needed to modify the terminal building and that was about a $350 thousand effort," said airport Executive Director Eric Menger.
At C.J. Cannon’s restaurant inside the terminal, they survived the many years without commercial service because of a loyal, local customer base. But the new flights have perked up morning business.
“We’ve noticed they come for breakfast.. for coffee… bagels," said Pat Cannon. "They ask 'I'm in a hurry.' We cook everything made to order but we're fast and we get it to them."
Flights out of Vero may sometimes cost more, but the airport director says look beyond the ticket cost.
“The parking here at there airport is free. There’s no hassle. It takes 10-15 minutes to go through security. We have a very relaxed atmosphere," said Menger.
And while right now there’s only one nonstop destination from Vero, the airline’s CEO says that could change.
“We’re looking at Islip, Asheville, Newport News, and Washington DC," said Pearsall.