Passenger traffic continues to climb at SRQ Airport

Sheltair expanding fixed base operations

Image from the homepage of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport has continued to see its passenger totals climb this year, as evidenced by the latest figures that airport staff has released.

During March, 553,521 passengers traveled through the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), marking a 7.5% increase over the tally of 514,889 passengers in March 2023, airport staff has announced.

In February, the airport noted that the passenger count was up 26%, compared to the February 2023 total of 340,465. January saw a smaller uptick, as its tally of 395,993 passengers was just 5% higher than the 377,617 total recorded in January 2023, the SRQ staff reported for that month.

When SRQ announced the February data, Frederick “Rick” Piccolo, president and CEO of the airport, said, “With the surge in spring break travel, we forecast March and April to be our busiest months, as visitors seek a convenient and efficient airport experience on their way to our world-renowned beaches, and myriad … cultural and sports activities in the area.”

In both 2022 and 2023, SRQ set records for its passenger counts.

Over the 12 months through March of this year, the latest news release noted, SRQ recorded 4,415,951 passengers, a 9% increase, compared to the 4,048,419 tally of passengers for the 12 months through March 2023.

“SRQ continues to reach a multitude of milestones,” Piccolo pointed out in the release about the March data. “The total number of passengers traveling through SRQ exceeded half a million in a single month for the second time in the airport’s history,” he noted. “We are delighted to see the commitment of our passengers in choosing SRQ for their travel needs during this period of significant growth and expansion,” Piccolo added.

With the passenger tallies continuing to rise, the airport has announced that Sheltair, “a leading provider of aviation services and aviation real estate development,” is expanding its fixed base operation (FBO) network at what is designated as KSRQ.

Image courtesy Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

Sheltair officially broke ground at the airport on Tuesday, April 30, to construct a brand new, modern private aviation complex, which is scheduled to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2025,” the airport announced early this month.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Lisa Holland, president and CEO of Sheltair, “expressed her excitement about entering the SRQ market, saying that ‘we look forward to bringing Sheltair’s award-winning brand and services along with a Family First, Fuel, Build, Serve mission statement to the area,’ ” that release noted.

“Sheltair’s decision to expand to KSRQ was driven by the airport’s robust business and general aviation flight activity and the demand for based aircraft storage opportunities,” the release continued. “The airport’s rapid growth necessitated an additional private general aviation complex and service provider; in Sheltair, the airport gained an award-winning FBO partner and property developer.”

“We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Sheltair as the third fixed base operator at SRQ,” Piccolo, SRQ’s president and CEO, said in that release. “Situated on 24 acres within the new north quad airport development, this addition will provide another choice for the general aviation community and bring numerous job opportunities to the Sarasota-Bradenton area,” Piccolo added.

The completion of the Sheltair Sarasota facility will mark the company’s 17th FBO location and the 13th in Florida, the release said.

“Sheltair’s development at KSRQ is expansive, providing prime space for various aviation businesses and leisure travelers alike. The crown jewel of the development is a 10,705-square-foot terminal situated on 15 acres of apron space that will have a large airside canopy,” the release explained.

“The FBO will include an open and inviting lobby for passengers and pilots, in addition to an exclusive lounge area for private use when discretion is of the utmost necessity,” the release continued. “Further amenities include waiting areas, crew rest facilities, and conference rooms for business on the go. The terminal will also host local aeronautical businesses looking to gain high visibility at KSRQ with several large office options. High-end finishing touches will provide the luxurious atmosphere for which Sheltair is known.”

Further, the release pointed out, “While the FBO terminal will accommodate [Sheltair’s] guests, two commercial storage hangars on the property will accommodate all classes of aircraft,” including those with large cabin classes, as well as additional business office space. “Hangar A will boast 29,655 square feet,” with 5,940 square feet of offices, the release said. “Hangar B will feature 16,875 square feet of hangar space and 3,465 square feet of offices.”

Moreover, the release noted, Sheltair’s investment in infrastructure at SRQ is more than $40 million.

“The Sheltair team looks forward to hosting a grand opening ceremony in the fourth quarter of 2025 when the terminal and hangar complex are complete,” the release continued.

In the coming years, the release said, Sheltair’s property development team plans to expand its SRQ facilities, including four more hangars at 20,000 or more square feet each.

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