Sarasota Bradenton International Airport has announced its adding another airline to the skies.
A press conference Thursday, Oct. 21, revealed Avelo Airlines as the new nonstop service. In an email response to the Business Observer regarding the announcement, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport President and CEO Rick Piccolo said the airline will be the airport's 11th service provider.
The service, set to begin January 13, 2022, will take passengers to New Haven, Connecticut, and will operate Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. "We're particularly pleased today because not only will we extend our lineup of airline choices," says Piccolo at the conference, "we'll be serving a new market and state that has needed nonstop service for some time."
With help from the area's economic development corporations and chambers of commerce, the airport was able to conduct market data studies to prove market viability and demand coming from Connecticut. Piccolo says the new airline will help to fill that need. Avelo Airlines will operate at its own ticket counter at the airport.
Bud Hafer, Avelo airport relations, attended the conference to officially make the announcement. Hafer has a history working with the airport as the former manager of airport affairs with Allegiant.
"People want to come here," says Hafer. "They're coming to the beaches. There are a lot more people here in the winter because it's a little bit colder in New Haven."
Before service start in January, Hafer says the airline needs to hire a ground handler, get all agreements lined up and schedule crews.
The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is projected to hit a total of 3.2 million passengers this year by the end of December. "It's a demonstration of the demand that's here," says Piccolo, contributing the airport's record year as a factor for the additional airline. "It certainly draws the attention of airline planners. I think it makes them curious about 'what the heck's going on down there?' It gives you a little more credibility when your air service team goes to meet with their planning people."
Piccolo notes that while there aren't many left, there are certainly other airlines not yet featured at the airport that are interested. The airport continues on a record-shattering year with the first few months in 2022 also looking to be positive. In the first nine months of 2021, SRQ has had over 2.2 million passengers pass through. The first three months of 2022 have already seen a 52% increase in seats over what the airport saw this year.
"I don't see it slowing down," he says, "but at some point something has to level off."
Another airline recently debuted in the region. Breeze Airways flew its inaugural flight from Tampa International Airport to Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this year.