ACanfield_MCB.JPG

Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

featured

Rochester airport adding service to Florida and Arizona

Rochester airport adding service to Florida and Arizona

Elite Airways says it will begin offering twice-weekly direct service to Florida and Arizona beginning this July.

The announcement was made Thursday morning at Rochester International Airport. Flights to St. Augustine, Florida will begin July 19 and flights to Phoenix will proceed the following day.

The airline says tickets will start at $299 each way.

Both destinations are positioned close to other prominent Mayo Clinic sites. St. Augustine is just a 45 minute drive from Mayo's campus in Jacksonville. Phoenix is about 30 minutes from the clinic's Scottsdale location.

“Today’s exciting announcement is good news for Mayo Clinic patients, staff and the Rochester community as a whole," said Steven McNeill, chief planning officer for Mayo and president of the airport's board. "These nonstop flights will make air travel between Rochester and the clinic’s two others campuses in Arizona and Florida easier, quicker and more convenient."

The Rochester airport is currently served by three airlines — American, United and Delta — that together provide 13 nonstop flights each day to airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Portland, Maine-based Elite Airways is relatively small compared to any of the industry titans. Before today's announcement, it offered flights to about a dozen U.S. cities.

"We believe the service will be embraced by business and leisure travelers, as well as Mayo Clinic staff, patients and families looking to travel between campuses," John Pearsall, president of Elite Airway, said in a news release.

The addition of service to Mayo's two other campuses follows last year's decision to adopt a policy requiring much of its Rochester staff to fly out of RST, rather than nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP).

That move, along with the addition of new flights, led to a 27 percent increase in passengers between 2016 and 2017.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the airfare would start at around $300 round-trip when, in fact, that is the cost for one-way fare.

Follow Sean on Twitter.

Brittney Marschall files for Rochester's Ward 5 seat

Brittney Marschall files for Rochester's Ward 5 seat

Ken Burns focuses his lens on the Mayo Clinic

Ken Burns focuses his lens on the Mayo Clinic