Elite Airways has announced new nonstop service between Rochester International Airport (RST) in Minnesota to Northeast Florida Regional Airport (UST) in St. Augustine.
Twice-weekly nonstop flights will help connect Mayo Clinic headquarters in Rochester with its campuses in Jacksonville and in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the airline.
Elite will be offering the following service beginning on July 19 and 20:
- Rochester to St. Augustine – Mondays and Fridays, starting at $299 each way
- Rochester to Phoenix – Thursdays and Sundays, starting at $299 each way
“Elite Airways is pleased to launch in Rochester with nonstop jet service to Phoenix and St. Augustine; 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,” said John Pearsall, president of Elite Airways.
Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville has 261 beds and employs nearly 6,000 people, according to the organization’s website.
The campus is also undergoing an expansion with a $20 million grant from the Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation, which is based in South Florida.
The new building will focus on advanced treatment of cancer and neurological conditions.
“These nonstop flights will make air travel between Rochester and the [Mayo] Clinic’s two others campuses in Arizona and Florida easier, quicker and more convenient. We are pleased Elite Airways is offering this new service that will benefit our patients and staff,” said Steven McNeill, chief planning officer for Mayo Clinic and president of the Rochester Airport Company board in a news release.
With the flights Elite Airways may be able to target a portion of Florida’s medical tourism industry. A 2014 study from nonprofit Florida TaxWatch and state regulators found medical tourists spend more than $5 billion in Florida annually.
"In its first year the new service will bring new overnight visitors who are expected to contribute more than $4.6 million dollars in direct spending to our local economy,” said Richard Goldman, president & CEO of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau, in a news release.
For St. Augustine’s airport, the addition of Elite Airways marks a bit of a rebound in commercial flights. Frontier Airlines pulled out of St. Augustine, relocating and expanding its Northeast Florida flights to Jacksonville International Airport.
The St. Augustine Record reported Frontier Airlines left St. Augustine’s airport on “good terms” and that the airport continues to market to all types of carriers.