Airport Push Seen to Benefit Sarasota Real Estate Market


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, May, 22, 2013 – Continuing efforts to upgrade the Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) and boost its patronage among major airlines and passengers stand to add further impetus to the growth of the local real estate market, Sarasota Bay Real Estate reports. SRQ serves more than 1.3 million passengers annually, with more than 100,000 aircraft operations in its fold.

Besides the ongoing renovation of the airport’s check-in area, three additional projects were tabled for approval during the regular meeting of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA) on May 13, 2012. These include a contract award on video security system on SRQ’s terminal landside and roadside, improvement of baggage claim public areas, and airplane guidance signage replacement.

Gearing up for more arrivals

In addition, a $2.5-million new customs inspection facility is also in the pipeline at SRQ.  The completion of this project, which now awaits final regulatory approval, is expected to contribute in drawing international carriers to SRQ.

Grants will fund 70% of the construction, according to Rick Piccolo, airport president and CEO. The planned customs facility, if SRQ is to lure larger carriers like European airlines, needs to be geared at handling 250–300 passengers in a peak airport hour, Piccolo noted. A peak-hour handling capacity of 130–150 passengers is fine only for narrow-bodied aircrafts, he added.

The airport executive also revealed that a new air traffic control tower is likewise on the drawing boards for SRQ. This proposed project has been valued at between $12 million and $15 million, with both the state and the airport already committing $4 million each. Hopes for this project to finally take off are now pinned on the easing of the budget sequestration in Washington. This development should clear construction funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

If the project pushes through, the present control tower has to be relocated to the southwestern section of the SRQ property to allot some 40 acres for other real estate developments like hangars. This new layout is an absolute necessity in order to provide unobstructed view for the air traffic controllers at the tower.

Campaign to woo carriers, passengers


Carriers and their routes which SRQ can zero in to upgrade its international service were also pinpointed to the SMAA by aviation expert Michael Boyd of the consultancy firm The Boyd Group.  Among these are Delta Air and its Atlanta, GA, connection; US Airways and its Chicago, IL, route; United Airlines and its Denver, CO, flights; and American Airlines and its Dallas, TX, destination.

In November last year, the airport launched a marketing campaign dubbed as “Do You SRQ?” to stem the loss of traffic brought about by the termination of Southwest Airways’ AirTran flights to the airport. This campaign, which won an award from the Florida Public Relations Association, encourages businesses and nonprofits to consider first SRQ when flying, ahead of other competing airports. It also urges its target audiences to become “Airport Advocates” and spread the word on the strong economic value of flying to/from SRQ.

SRQ’s efforts to upgrade its facilities and draw more international carriers and passengers jibe with initiatives to attract more foreign visitors, including not only tourists but also investors and property buyers. Prominent among these projects are the Sarasota-Manatee joint bid for the world rowing championship and the expansion of the sports facilities of IMG Academy. The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch has also emerged recently as a popular venue for major competitions in soccer and other athletic disciplines.