SRQ wins FDOT award as 2022 Commercial Service Airport of Year
In July, for just the second time this year, passenger traffic at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) fell month-over-month, airport President and CEO Frederick “Rick” Piccolo has announced.
On a different note, the airport has been awarded the 2022 Commercial Service Airport of the Year Award by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the airport also has announced.
The July passenger count of 283,125 marked a 13.4% decrease, compared to the figure for July 2021, a news release says. That followed a drop in the month-over-month figure for June, as noted in a release issued last month. SRQ served 7.8% fewer passengers in June, compared to the total for June 2021, that release said.
In May, the airport had 43,880 more passengers than it saw in May 2021, Piccolo noted of that month’s data. He did caution at the time that rising fuel prices, along with pilot and personnel shortages nationwide, likely would affect Sarasota Bradenton International.
In spite of the June and July declines, the latest news release added, the number of passengers traveling through SRQ through July contributed to a 33.1% uptick for the first seven months of this year, compared to the same period in 2021. The total at SRQ as of the end of July was 2,377,763. Through July 2021, the figure was 1,786,638, the release notes.
“We continue to see airlines reduce flights nationwide in response to staffing shortages, higher fuel prices, and threats of inflation and recession,” Piccolo said in the release. Nonetheless, he continued, “We expect to see additional flights added and passenger numbers return to our 2021 levels as the winter holiday season approaches.”
In the meantime, Piccolo pointed out, staff and the Authority board members “are solely focused on the multitude of construction projects we are embarking on to increase capacity at the airport.” Those will cost about $200 million, a separate SRQ news release says.
Among those projects is a new five-gate terminal, an expanded baggage-handling system, a ground transportation facility, a new cell phone lot, and additional parking lots.
“These projects will allow SRQ to continue to grow and prosper while maintaining the great customer experience that travelers expect when using their hometown airport,” Piccolo added in the release.
As for the FDOT honor: On Aug. 1, in announcing the news, the state agency noted that the award “recognizes outstanding achievements in airport aesthetics, safety, and airport management in the State of Florida.”
SRQ “is the fastest-growing commercial service airport in the state,” the release points out. In 2021, SRQ processed 3,163,542 passengers, a total that was up 155.7% over the 2020 count and 61% higher than the figure for 2019, the release says. Over the past four years, the release continues, the airport has grown from providing the services of six airlines, with 12 nonstop destinations, to 11 airlines with 53 nonstop destinations.
“SRQ utilizes modern technology on its air carrier runways and takes great care to ensure the airfield is maintained in compliance with all federal standards and regulations,” the release explains. “SRQ places a high value on security,” as demonstrated by the recent installation of a new access control system and a digital CCTV system, the release continues.
Further, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regularly inspect the airport, “with outstanding results,” the release adds.
In 2020, an airport gateway project upgraded SRQ’s entrance signage and landscaping, the release continues. Parking lots were expanded to accommodate the rapid growth in traffic, and the security checkpoint was increased from four to six lanes, the release notes.
“We are honored to be named FDOT’s Commercial Service Airport of the Year for 2022,” Piccolo, the airport president, and CEO, said in that release. “This award acknowledges the outstanding efforts of our employees, contractors, and concessionaires, as well as the strong support from our governing board. Their enthusiasm and commitment help improve the travel experience for our passengers and the desirability of SRQ as the airport of choice,” he added in the release.