The Federal Aviation Administration's Southern Region Airports Division named Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority CEO Rick Piccolo the 2022 Air Carrier Airport Manager of the Year, the division says in a news release.
The award is given to an airport professional "who exemplifies excellence in airport management, demonstrates exceptional leadership, tirelessly works to promote the aviation industry, and has achieved efficiencies and improved productivity in their organization," according to the FAA's division.
The FAA's Southern Region Airports Division says Piccolo had success in guiding the airport through "unprecedented passenger growth, marked by an outstanding increase of 46% over 2021 and 155% over 2020."
From 2018 through 2022, the airport, under the call letters SRQ, grew from six airlines and 12 nonstop destinations to 11 airlines and 54 nonstop destinations, the FAA says.
"During this time, Piccolo ensured the design and construction of multiple projects to meet the growth of the airport, including an expansion of the screening checkpoint from four to six lanes, which increased efficiency by 33%," FAA officials say.
They also noted Piccolo enlarged the long-term, shade and overflow parking lots; added a new paved cellphone lot with amenities; quadrupled the on-site fuel storage capacity; and oversaw the groundbreaking and construction of a new five-gate terminal.
Piccolo has been successful in obtaining FAA, FDOT and state grant money to help pay for several expansion projects, allowing the airport to remain debt free. The pay-as-you-go philosophy that Piccolo instituted after paying off the airport’s bond debt in 2014 has allowed the airport to keep its rates and charges low, resulting in increased demand by airlines to serve the airport.
"This is a testament to the great team of employees and tenants at the airport who work diligently every day to make our users’ journey safe, secure, and as stress-free as possible, especially during this period of unprecedented growth at SRQ,” Piccolo says in the statement.
Piccolo has been president and CEO of SRQ since 1995. This is his second time being named FAA Air Carrier Airport Manager of the Year; he was honored with this award in 2005.