Despite Thanksgiving Travel, Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Sees Slower November

Dec. 15, 2020

Dec. 15—Fewer passengers traveled through Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in November than in October, despite the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend.

The airport saw 106,195 passengers travel through its facilities last month, compared to 110,883 in October and 182,607 in November 2019.

Despite expectations that the airport would bring in numbers that hit 70% or more of the 2019 level, traffic in November was at just 58% of what it was in the same month the year before.

Still, airport president and CEO Rick Piccolo said that traffic at Sarasota- Bradenton remains above the national average. Hurricane Eta depressed travel in the beginning of November, Piccolo said, and having one less day in the month compared to October led to lower numbers. Thanksgiving travel, Piccolo said, was strong.

"The airlines at SRQ continue to adjust their schedules based on ever-changing passenger demand. During these difficult times, we are very fortunate to be a leisure destination that is geographically located in a warm-weather setting offering many outdoor activities which allows social distancing," Piccolo said in a statement. "While our passenger levels remain depressed, the winter/spring schedule has a substantial increase in flights for 2021 at SRQ."

Some new flights, plus returning seasonal service, are expected to begin in the upcoming months. New carrier Southwest Airlines is bringing seven routes — three seasonal and four year-round — to Sarasota- Bradenton starting next year.

Delta Air Lines is bringing back its seasonal route to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and United Airlines is increasing the frequency of its seasonal flights to Denver.

Having Southwest on board means the airport now has 10 airlines serving 40 destinations, Piccolo said. Once the new service starts, Piccolo said he thinks the airport could see record-breaking traffic numbers on par with heights reached right before the pandemic.

Year-to-date passenger traffic for 2020 is down 35.7% compared to 2019, according to the airport. So far in 2020, 1,117,872 passengers have traveled through the airport.

Despite the tough year, the airport is in a good financial position and operates without debt.

"We hope our community and visitors will embrace all of the new air service that has been added and will choose their local airport, which benefits our local economy, businesses and residents," Piccolo said.


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