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Airport dip: Not for long

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 4, 2015
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Southwest Florida International Airport recently reported fewer passengers passed through the terminal in Fort Myers in July.

Should hotels and other hospitality businesses be concerned? Tourism officials monitor airport-passenger traffic carefully because it's a gauge of the health of the industry.

Although relatively small, July's 1% drop in the number of passengers compared with July 2014 was the first year-over-year monthly decline since November 2013.

“That's the impact of the Southwest-AirTran merger,” says Victoria Moreland, director of communications and marketing for the Lee County Port Authority.

When Southwest acquired AirTran, some of the Fort Myers routes overlapped. “Some of those flights are not there anymore,” she says, noting other mergers such as American-USAirways haven't affected the airport as significantly because there was little overlap.

In addition, summer and fall are typically slower months for the airport as fewer tourists fly to Fort Myers than during the busy winter months. “They're tough months to deal with,” Moreland says.

Airlines are increasing the number of flights with larger aircraft and more seats as winter approaches. “I don't think this is a systemic problem,” Moreland says. “The lift is going to be there, people will continue to come here.”

Year-to-date through July, passenger traffic at Southwest Florida International is up 3.9% compared with the first seven months of 2014. The airport saw the most passengers ever in March, when more than 1.18 million people passed through its gates.


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