Florida Airports’ Competition Heating Up


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 6th, 2016 – The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) and Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) are stepping up efforts to be more competitive with their larger Florida peers. These moves are expected to lead not only to better and value-for-money services but also contribute to the growth of the property sector in the region as well.

At SRQ, airport officials have teamed up Visit Sarasota County—the area’s convention and visitors bureau—in persuading Southwest Airlines to revive flights between the local airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). This route was erstwhile served by AirTran with six nonstop flights daily but it was stopped in August 2012 after Southwest took over this airline.

Luring with Lower Costs

Florida Airports’ Competition Heating Up

To attract other carriers, SRQ announced in August 2016 that it will waive its terminal fees for airlines that will create a new non-stop route to and from the airport. One year of terminal fee payment will be waived for those adding routes to destinations SRQ already serves. These discounts will mean an estimated $230,000 in revenue loss, but the airport hopes to recoup this amount with increased passenger traffic.

Rick Piccolo, SRQ president and CEO, noted that their initiatives resulting in reduced costs for the airlines comes at a time when the airport’s major rivals—Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport, are raising airline costs. SRQ hopes that if it draws more airlines in addition to its current six carriers, fares will become more competitive. The airlines currently serving SRQ include Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, United Airlines and WestJet.

These airlines already enjoy two years of waived landing fees, aside from drawing the benefits of SRQ’s marketing programs. Just in 2015, the airport has launched an aggressive promotion campaign mainly pegged on the “boutique” experience that its newly renovated, state-of-the-art terminal offers to passengers.

PGD Makeover Draws New Carrier

A major makeover was likewise celebrated at the Punta Gorda Airport in May of 2016, with the completion of its Bailey Terminal which added 40,000 square feet to more than double its original square footage. Costing some $11 million, this expansion also doubled the air gates to four, enhanced security areas, provided better noise control, and opened room for additional ticket counters and more spacious passenger waiting area.

These enhancements immediately paid off with the announcement in July that Frontier Airlines will start flights to Punta Gorda in fall. The airline will join PGD’s erstwhile lone carrier Allegiant Air in serving this airport some 20 miles north of Fort Myers. Non-stop Punta Gorda flights to and from Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia, and Trenton, New Jersey are the routes which Frontier Airlines will serve. The Trenton service will be year-round, while the Philadelphia and Chicago O’Hare flights will be seasonal.

The entry of Frontier Airlines in PGD bodes well for a continuing increase of passenger traffic in the airport and for broader marketing exposure on Charlotte homes for sale. The Charlotte County Airport Authority reported that passenger arrivals and departures in July rose for the 34th consecutive month on a year-to-year comparison. Passenger traffic in the rolling 12-month period as of July totaled 992,990, already approaching the 1.2 million that SRQ posted in 2014.