Elite Marks SRQ Return To Form



With the arrival of Elite Airways service, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will now enjoy the passenger traffic levels not seen since AirTran left the market in 2012. “As we look forward, things are moving in the right direction,” says SRQ President Rick Piccolo.

Officials from Elite Airways today will announce commercial flight service twice a week between SRQ and Portland International Jetport [PWM] in Maine. “The demand for Maine-to-Florida service has been consistently strong, and we are thrilled to add these new nonstop flights while also expanding existing service in other markets starting this fall,” John Pearsall, president of Elite Airways, said in a release. “We sincerely appreciate the support from community and airport leaders in Sarasota and Portland, and expect this to be a very successful route.”

Beginning Nov. 17, the new service will operate twice a week on Thursday and Sunday, with a plane departing PMW at 11:45am to land at SRQ at 2:45pm, then departing SRQ at 3:30pm to land at PWM at 6:30pm. The addition of Portland as a destination expands the connectivity of nonstop flights to and from SRQ. Piccolo expects during peak holiday season for flights to run five times a week, and during the Spring Break/Easter season to run three flights a week.

The addition also puts annual passenger traffic back at comfortable levels for SRQ. After Southwest took over AirTran in 2012, it dropped service to 15 markets, including SRQ, taking with it roughly a third of all passenger traffic in and out of the airport. Back then, the airport saw roughly 1.3 million total passengers each year. With the arrival of Elite at SRQ, the airport expects to see roughly 1.25 million total passengers. Elite joins carriers such as Westjet, Air Canada and United in opening or expanding service to SRQ in the past four years. “And we were able to do all that in the midst of the greatest recession since the Great Depression,” Piccolo boasts.

Piccolo says Elite was drawn to SRQ for a number of reasons, including marketing opportunities with both Visit Sarasota County and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, but was also drawn because the airport retired the last of its debt in 2014. “There will be no big spike on horizon to pay for some need,” Piccolo says.

Photo courtesy Elite Airways

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