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"JIA promises more shops, cafes past security"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

JIA promises more shops, cafes past security
The Aviation Authority says travelers asked for more options, and they'll be delivered with the terminal expansion in '08.

Jacksonville International Airport will add more than 17,000 square feet of concession space to its three concourses as part of the expansion of its terminal, a project slated to be finished in 2008.

The new shops will not only expand the number of retail offerings at the airport, but change the mix, adding in speciality retailers like Brooks Brothers and Details as well as a range of dining options post-security.

Once all of the new shops are operating, the airport will contain 10 restaurants plus a food court with several eateries and a common seating area, plus nine retail stores, most of them past the security check-point. The changes would almost double the amount of retail space and add about 50 percent more restaurant space to the airport.

"This is lost revenue [now]," said Susan Sallet, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority's director of revenue. "We're really exited about the whole new program. It will really put us on the map as far as airport concessions go."

Travelers have asked for a wider range of retail products and more sit-down restaurants past security, Sallet said. "Everyone wants to get through the security line," she said.

Work on the terminal expansion project began in May, when contractors began breaking up concrete and installing new structural elements, and is expected to take about two years. The two companies that are coordinating most of the concession contracts - Host International Inc. on the food and beverage side and The Paradies Shops on the retail side - will have a 15-year and a 12-year non-exclusive contract (respectively) that begin in April. The airport also has other, standalone, contracts with various vendors, on both the food and retail fronts.

Both companies are active at JIA now, and the new contracts are extensions of their existing ones. The new deals, however, are expected to bump airport revenue in line with the expanded operations: The retail stores will bring in $1.6 million in 2008 - up 55 percent from this fiscal year- while the restaurants bring in $2.2 million, up 46 percent, according to Aviation Authority projections.

Paradies is particularly excited by the addition of the CNBC News stores, which will sell books and magazines as well as feature flat-screen televisions and computers that let travellers check their stocks, said Lou Bottino, chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Paradies, because of the number of business travellers who pass through JIA.

Concessionaires at the airport pay a percentage of their revenue to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, with Host required to pay at least $1.3 million a year and Paradies $1 million.

The retailers are capped as far as price, though: Stores and restaurants are only allowed to charge 10 percent more than typical "street" retail value for their products, while stores like Brooks Brothers and Details have to sell at the manufacturers' suggested retail price.

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