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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 3 months ago

Airport outpaces competitors — even with single allegiance

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Punta Gorda Airport has grown significantly in the last decade.

Summer has brought hot news for airports on the west coast of Florida, particularly in new flight announcements.

Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, for example, dramatically increased nonstop service into and out of both Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers and Tampa International Airport. With flights starting this fall, that means a bevy of new markets: in Fort Myers, the list includes Phoenix; Portland, Maine; and Albany and Syracuse, N.Y.; while with Tampa International, additional destinations range from Colorado Springs and Columbus, Ohio to Nashville and Providence, R.I.

Other airlines have also recently boosted service to the region’s airports, which economic development officials often point to as key components for corporate relocation decisions.

Then there’s Punta Gorda Airport. Tucked between Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) to its south and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) to the north, PGD is on a tear. Relying exclusively on Allegiant Airlines, the airport surpassed the one million-passenger mark in July, officials recently announced.

“This is another milestone for PGD, and it demonstrates the success of our low-cost airport model,” airport CEO James Parish says in a statement. “As an airport we strive for continued improvements in customer service, logistics and efficiencies — all while keeping costs low so Allegiant can pass savings down to their customers.”

PGD Airport officials predict the 2018 passenger count will total nearly 1.5 million by the end of December — another record.

Also, on a comparison basis, PGD trumps a trio of other commercial airports on Florida’s west coast in passenger increase rates, according to Land Solutions’ 2018 second quarter Market Trends report. Passenger traffic at the Charlotte County airport, according to data from the Fort Myers commercial real estate firm, grew 25.5% year-over-year in the 2018 second quarter. SRQ’s traffic increased 4.48% in the same time frame, while RSW posted a 5.16% jump, and Tampa rose 8.9%, data shows.

All this bodes well for Charlotte County, Land Solutions projects. “Charlotte County Airport will be a major economic driver in the future,” the report states, “which is likely to present ample opportunities for homebuilders, developers and the like.”

 

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