SRQ Airport breaks 1-million passenger mark in first three months of this year

New monthly total set in March

This graph, showing trends in passenger counts at the airport, was part of a presentation to community leaders early this year. Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown distributed this and other graphics to the city commissioners on Feb. 16 after seeing the presentation. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

For the month of March, 442,846 passengers traveled through the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), a new record for the number of passengers served in a single month, Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the airport, announced this week.

The March figure represents a 59.5% increase over the number of passengers served during the same month in 2021, a news release noted. “Passengers traveling through the airport year-to-date total 1,085,500,” compared to the figure of 564,066 year-to-date for 2021, an increase of 92%, the release pointed out.

In December 2021, the airport staff announced earlier this year, 347,268 passengers traveled through SRQ, which was the highest monthly total in the airport’s history at that time.

With the release of that news, the airport staff also reported, “For 2022, the trend of record growth is expected to continue.” For the first four months of this year, approximately 2 million airline seats were available for purchase, staff said in early January, noting that that marked a 42% increase over the 2021 figure.

During a December 2020 presentation to Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council, Piccolo pointed out that, in 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic began — SRQ was “the fastest growing airport in the country” among those serving more than 500,000 passengers a year. Its passenger count grew 43% from 2018 to 2019, he noted.

In the latest news release, Piccolo said, “We are pleased to see so many travelers were able to experience the convenience of our airport the past three months.” He added, “These record-breaking passenger numbers were unimaginable just a few years ago before SRQ grew to 11 airlines and 53 nonstop destinations. The demand to live, work, and vacation in our community has exploded, and we are seeing the repercussions of this,” he continued.

“The airport has responded quickly to this demand by increasing aircraft fuel storage, expanding the screening checkpoint, adding additional parking lots, and opening more food and beverage concessions,” the news release points out. This year, staff also expects to break ground on new construction that will be valued at more than $150 million, the release adds. Among the projects will be a five-gate terminal.

This graphic is part of the presentation that SRQ Airport President and CEO Rick Piccolo provided to community leaders early this year. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

In December 2020, during a presentation to Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council, Piccolo explained that the SRQ airport retired its debt in 2014, so it was able to complete a four-year, $20-million renovation of its terminal in 2016 on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“We appreciate the community’s patience as we improve the airport and strive to maintain the easy, convenient, travel experience passengers enjoy when flying SRQ,” Piccolo said in the latest release.

In related news, Piccolo noted that Allegiant Air began nonstop service to Austin, Texas, (AUS) on April 14. Further, he said, “Our newest airline, Breeze Airways, will start service at SRQ with nonstop flights” to Hartford, Conn., beginning June 4.