Domestic travel is up because of a steady flow of new flights by Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas-based airline that focuses on leisure travelers. The airline isn't slowing down, with four more destinations planned by June 1, for a total of 23, most going to the Midwest and East.
Airline consultant Stuart Klaskin calls Allegiant "one of the best things that happened to Orlando Sanford," but he doesn't expect big-name airlines to follow anytime soon.
Central Florida, he said, hasn't reached saturation like South Florida, which is so packed with residents that two airports in close proximity -- Miami's and Fort Lauderdale's -- can each attract bigger airlines.
In Orlando, Klaskin said, "the urban sprawl, if you will, is not yet so awful that organically a second airport like that is necessary."
Still, Sanford's airport is one of the busiest general-aviation airports in the country, with more than 300,000 takeoffs and landings a year, fueled in large part by the flight-training school. And that is what's driving expansion of the southernmost runway.
Although the lengthening and an eventual widening would open up a second runway to handle commercial jets, meaning two jets could land at one time, airport officials said the goal is to provide relief to the main runway by shifting over more general-aviation aircraft.
The extended runway would slice in half Beardall Avenue and mean the fencing off of Cameron Avenue so road traffic wouldn't interfere with signals for planes. Part of a new instrument landing system for the runway would be east of the street.
George Wilson, who lives between the airport and Lake Mary Boulevard, says growth so far has been acceptable. But, he said, "Sometimes, I can envision a Hilton being here on our lot."
Indeed, the two hotels planned on airport property, including a Best Western, would be just down the street. There also will be an 84 Lumber store.
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