Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Businesses Don't Mind the Wait at JIA 'Dwell Time' Plays Big Role as Travelers Linger

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Businesses Don't Mind the Wait at JIA 'Dwell Time' Plays Big Role as Travelers Linger

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Calnan, Times-Union business writer

Waiting around the airport seems like a waste to some, but it's very profitable to others.

Longer waits at Jacksonville International Airport have given a boost to businesses that were hit hard when wary travelers canceled trips and airlines cut flight schedules following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It seems the very thing that almost killed airport concessions is now boosting them.

The terrorists attacks prompted tighter security, which forces travelers to arrive earlier for their flights. The situation has increased what airport officials call the "dwell time," the amount of time travelers spend in airport terminals.

The higher the dwell time, the greater chance a person will buy something. And for airports, that's crucial to their operations. At JIA, about one-third of the airport's annual revenue comes from concessions.

But the dwell time phenomenon isn't unique to JIA.

Uncertainty with security procedures has increased dwell time, said David Milobsky, spokesman for HMS Host, which operates 2,200 concessions at 70 U.S. airports. The Maryland-based company also operates all of JIA's food and drink concessions.

"There's a perceived need to arrive at the airport earlier, and what they're finding is that they go through quicker than they expected," Milobsky said. "I think we've certainly benefited from that."

He wouldn't release sales numbers for HMS Host concessions.

However, dwell time is certainly making its mark at JIA. March was the busiest month ever for JIA's food and beverage concessions, said Bingham Parkinson, assistant director of business and development for the Jacksonville Airport Authority.

It's not just food and drinks.

Travelers are filling their extra time by renting two movies instead of one, said Barney Freedman, president of InMotion Pictures, the airport's DVD rental concession. The four-year-old company had its best quarter to date in the months following Sept. 11.

"We're seeing a direct correlation between our extra movie rentals and dwell time people have in airports," Freedman said. "The number who shop are now forced to shop. …

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