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Second airport in region breaks annual passenger traffic record


  • By Jim Stinson
  • | 1:30 p.m. January 18, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
In 2023, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) broke its annual passenger count record.
In 2023, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) broke its annual passenger count record.
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) broke its 2022 record for passenger count, increasing 2% from 2022 to service 2,494,952 passengers in 2023, according to a Thursday airport news release.

PIE had already broken monthly passenger count records in January, June, July, September, October, and November. And July 2023 was PIE's biggest month in its history, with 279,622 passengers, airport officials say.

PIE broke its annual record despite a 6% drop in December 2023, compared to December 2022. Last month, PIE had 195,211 passengers use the airport.

Since 2016, PIE's passenger annual count has grown steadily, save for an interruption caused by COVID-19. Annual PIE passenger count is up 35.8% from 2016, when the airport serviced 1.8 million people.

"Our airlines generated tremendous growth in destinations and passengers and everyone on Team PIE works together to create a 'Go Easy' customer experience and a safe and efficient airport," says Tom Jewsbury, airport director, in a written statement.



Allegiant Air, the airport's primary servicer, "has been the force behind PIE's growth, offering the most nonstop destinations — 59 — in the Tampa Bay area," airport officials say.

PIE officials say they have had "tremendous" growth over the years, breaking records for five consecutive years before the pandemic, and then again in 2022. They credited the growth to low airfares and many nonstop choices.

But post-COVID air travel is not just booming at PIE. Earlier this month, another Gulf Coast airport, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), reported 12% growth in 2023, as compared to 2022.

In 2023, SRQ had 4.3 million passengers, compared to 2022's 3.87 million passengers. SRQ also noted airport traffic is up 215% since 2018, when it had 1.3 million passengers.

 

author

Jim Stinson

Jim Stinson is the Business Observer's Tampa Bay business reporter and editor, having previously written about business and policy in Washington, D.C.; Rochester, New York; Gary, Indiana; and Daytona Beach. He attended Boston University for business and Indiana University for journalism.

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