The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport still managed to pull off a calendar-year passenger record by more than 20%, even after two storm-related air traffic hiccups — one in September and one in December.
First it was Hurricane Ian. Then a winter storm over the holidays blew through. Yet, still, 3.87 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2022. That's a 21.6% increase over 2021’s record year of 3.16 million passengers, according to a story first reported on by the Business Observer's sister paper the Sarasota Observer.
“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,’’ Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, says in a statement. “We look forward to serving you in 2023.”
Throughout the past five years, passenger traffic has grown from 1.2 million passengers in 2017. The statement points to the influx of new flights and destinations offered by Southwest Airlines, the airport’s largest carrier, and Allegiant Air as the reason for the uptick.
Piccolo says SRQ, the airport's call letters, is served by 11 airlines to 56 destinations. In addition to Southwest and Allegiant, Air Canada, American, Avelo, Breeze, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Sun Country and United fly from the airport, at least seasonally.
In September when Hurricane Ian hit, the airport was closed for about 48 hours. Then with the most reason winter storm in December, Southwest canceled more than 16,000 flights nationwide over 10 days beginning on Dec. 21.
In response to the passenger growth, initial expansion work began in late 2022, revolving around a centerpiece project that will add five ground-boarding gates to the airport’s 13 gates.
The $72 million ground-boarding facility is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2025.
Airport officials envision a 7 million passenger capacity per year once the new gates and concourse is completed.