SRQ sets new passenger record in 2022

Count of 3,847,606 up 21.6%, compared to 2021 figure

As the months ticked by in 2022, Frederick “Rick” Piccolo, president and CEO of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), put more and more emphasis on his expectation that the facility would end up serving a record number of passengers by the year’s end. He was right on target.

Among factors that figured into his prediction, in May 2022, the airport staff announced that the total number of passengers was up 57% for the first five months of the year. May had seen an uptick of 43,880 passengers, compare to the number in May 2021.

Just the prior month — April 2022 — the passenger count month-over-month surged 31%, SRQ staff noted.

And in November 2022, the airport reported more passengers had walked its corridors than in any other November in the facility’s history: 359,488.

In a recent news release, the airport staff announced that SRQ saw a total of 377,775 passengers walk its corridors in December 2022, compared to the figure of 347,268 passengers in December 2021. Not only was the December 2022 count a record, the release noted, but the number of passengers for all of 2022 added up to 3,847,606. That figure marked a 21.6% jump over the total for 2021, which was 3,163,543, the release pointed out.

That December 2022 record came in spite of the 204 flight cancellations during the month, which partially resulted from disruptions brought about by Winter Storm Elliott.

As publications reported nationwide, Southwest Airlines had the largest number of cancellations in the wake of the storm. On Dec. 27, 2022, for example, SRQ’s online Departures list noted that multiple, scheduled Southwest Flights would not be leaving Sarasota that day. (Just months earlier, in that May 2022 report, the airport staff pointed to the fact that both Southwest and United had realized year-to-date increases of 100% or more in their passenger calculations.)

As for the new annual passenger total, the recent SRQ news release emphasized that it represented an increase of nearly 700,000 over the 2021 figure.

Moreover, the release said, “In 2023, SRQ expects to continue our growth trend with record- breaking passenger numbers each month for the foreseeable future.”

The release added that, over the past five years, “[T]he airport has seen passenger traffic triple from under 1.2 million passengers in 2017 to over 3.8 million passengers in 2022. There continues to be great demand to live, work, and visit our boutique community, and its world-renowned beaches, partake in year-round outdoor activities offered, and experience arts and culture that you would normally only find in a larger city,” the release continued. “This is why it is imperative the Airport Authority continues to expand the airport with additional aircraft gates, concessions, parking, and other amenities necessary to facilitate the increased demand impacting our community.”

As The Sarasota News Leader has reported, a number of those initiatives already are underway in an effort to improve service to passengers.

“I want to thank the Sarasota and Bradenton community, along with visitors from all over the world, for supporting the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in 2022,” SRQ CDO Piccolo said in the recent news release. “We look forward to serving you in 2023 as we continue to grow beyond the 56 nonstop destinations currently offered by the 11 airlines serving our airport,” he added.

Just below the news release, the SRQ website noted three new routes beginning in February and March:

  • Feb. 17 — Avelo Airlines from SRQ to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) in North Carolina.
  • March 11 — Southwest from SRQ to Buffalo (BUF).
  • March 11 — Southwest from SRQ to Minneapolis (MSP).
  • March 11 — Southwest from SRQ to Providence, R.I. (PVD).

Additionally on March 11, Southwest will resume seasonal service from SRQ to Cincinnati (CVG), Milwaukee (MKE) and Washington, D.C. (DCA), the airport pointed out.