Piccolo of SRQ honored with FAA award as 2022 Air Carrier Airport Manager of the Year

Passenger counts continue to climb

Frederick ‘Rick’ Piccolo. Contributed photo

Concurrent with the Federal Aviation Administration’s naming of Frederick J. “Rick” Piccolo, CEO of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, as the 2022 Air Carrier Airport Manager of the Year, the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) has announced that, from September 2022 through September of this year, the facility recorded 4,249,760 passengers.

The latter figure marks a 13% increase, compared to the tally of 3,746,571 passengers for the 12 months through September 2022, an SRQ news release says.

In regard to Piccolo: the Southern Region Airports Division of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) explained that the award he received goes “to an airport professional who exemplifies excellence in airport management, demonstrates exceptional leadership, tirelessly works to promote the aviation industry, and has achieved efficiencies and improved productivity in their organization.”

The news release noting the recognition of Piccolo says that the award “emphasizes [his] aptitude for guiding the airport through unprecedented passenger growth, marked by an outstanding increase of 46% over 2021 and 155% over 2020. From 2018 through 2022, the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport grew from 6 airlines and 12 nonstop destinations to 11 airlines and 54 nonstop destinations,” the release points out.

“During this time,” the release adds, “Piccolo ensured the design and construction of multiple projects to meet the growth of the airport, including an expansion of the screening checkpoint from four to six lanes,” which increased the checkpoint’s efficiency by 33%; “enlarging the long-term, shade, and overflow parking lots; adding a new paved cell phone lot with amenities; quadrupling the on-site fuel storage capacity”; and starting construction of a new five-gate terminal.

The airport’s news release about its September passenger traffic also points out that, along with the recently opened cell phone lot, upcoming improvements will include more paved parking lots, a new ground transportation area and updated food and beverage concessions. “Many of these improvements are currently on schedule to be completed by the end of next year,” Piccolo noted in that release. (See the related article in this issue.)

Moreover, the FAA release points out, “Piccolo has been successful in obtaining FAA, [Florida Department of Transportation, and other state] grant money to help pay for several [of the] expansion projects, allowing the airport to remain debt free. The pay-as-you-go philosophy Piccolo instituted after paying off the airport’s bond debt in 2014 has allowed the airport to keep its rates and charges low, resulting in increased demand by airlines to serve the airport.”

“I am very grateful and humbled to receive this award from the FAA Southern Region Division,” Piccolo said in the news release. “This is a testament to a supportive Board combined with a great team of employees and tenants at the airport who work diligently every day to make our users’ journey safe, secure, and as stress-free as possible, especially during this period of unprecedented growth at SRQ,” he added in the release.

Piccolo has been president and CEO of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport since 1995, the release points out. He also has served as chair of state, national and international aviation organizations, the release notes.

This is the second time Piccolo has been named FAA Air Carrier Airport Manager of the Year, the release says. The first time came in 2005.

“Locally, Piccolo serves on numerous business, charitable and educational boards,” the release continues. Among them is the University of South Florida Board of Trustees.

August and September passenger counts

Passengers make their way through the SRQ terminal. Image courtesy Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

For the month of September, that SRQ news release says, 230,685 passengers traveled through the airport, marking a 21% increase, compared to the 190,405 passengers recorded in September 2022.

“SRQ has seen a 14% increase in passengers for the calendar year-to-date as compared to the first 9 months of 2022,” that release adds.

As for August: The total number of passengers that month was 261,091, an increase of 10%, compared to the figure for August 2022, “despite the impact of Hurricane Idalia,” which shut down air service for a couple of days, a separate release said.

Further, that release noted, through August, the number of passengers traveling through the airport year-to-date totaled 2,973,800, a 14% increase over the count for the first eight months of 2022. The 12-month passenger tally through August was 4,209,480, a 12% increase compared to the 3,744,982 figure for the 12 months through August 2022.

“As the summer travel season draws to a close, the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is thrilled to have reported an overall increase in total passengers for each summer month,” Piccolo noted in that release. “The positive trajectory of passenger traffic at SRQ is expected to continue well into the fall season with the addition of new and returning flight services,” he added.