SRQ Airport Ends 2018 on Sky-High Note

Travel

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY JAN 15, 2019

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport ended the 2018 calendar year with a 16% increase in passenger traffic over calendar year 2017. This past December was the 9th straight month of increased passengers with the last eight months incurring double-digit increases averaging 28%, and December 2018 showing an astounding 39% increase from 2017 in transit and consumer volume. Growth first began in April 2018 with the addition of Allegiant Air—SRQ’s first ultra-low-cost carrier—and was then followed by Frontier Airlines—a second ultra-low-cost carrier—in December. The airport now hosts eight leading airlines. Much of the double-digit passenger growth was in large part, due to the addition of 20 new routes and 15 new destinations—tallying a humble total now of 26 nonstop destinations. SRQ served six airlines and only 10 nonstop destinations less than one year ago.

It only really takes one airline to make a huge difference in business at an airport, something we saw after Allegiant entered the Sarasota-Bradenton market and began offering its economical fares to several new cities, while airlines like American Air, Frontier and United added transit to Chicago (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Atlanta (ATL), Newark (EWR) and Philadelphia (PHL). Now maybe frequent flyers can look at SRQ's flights first, before looking at a drive up to Tampa International Airport, as costs may not always be higher than TPA, like they so often were before.

And according to Fredrick J. Piccolo, President & CEO of SRQ, the local airport is expected to continue its upward growth trend just as steadily in 2019. Showing no signs of taking his hand off the throttle, he announced new air service additions starting over the next few months. These additions include Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Asheville (AVL) starting late February, as well as Harrisburg (MDT), Syracuse (SYR), Columbus (LCK), Richmond (RIC) and Cleveland (CLE), Grand Rapids (GRR) and Nashville (BNA) all starting early April 2019. He also would like to see new nonstop Northeast and Midwest destinations added to places such as Buffalo, Detroit and Minneapolis, and more of a westward reach, including Houston. If all goes well, Piccolo foresees international destinations added, perhaps to Montreal, London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, that’s not the only exciting travel news for Sarasota-Bradenton County locals. Elite Airways recently announced a partnership with Sugarloaf Ski Resort. Located in the Carrabassett Valley, Maine, it is the largest ski area in the East. Offering exclusive winter vacation packages for its Florida-based passengers, the Maine Ski Package will include round-trip airfare on Elite Airways from SRQ to Portland (PWM), along with to-and-from airport transfers, lift ticket and the first-checked bag or oversized ski/snowboard bag for free. Packages also include mountain lodging at the Sugarloaf Inn, starting at $699 per person for either a 3-night Thursday-Sunday stay, or a 4-night Sunday-Thursday stay, based on double occupancy. Sugarloaf also reaps the number one golf course in Maine according to Golf Digest. So as not to leave out the beautiful summer months of New England, Elite and Sugarloaf are also planning summer and fall vacation packages to include golfing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and autumn leaf-viewing getaways. 

“Today’s announcement reflects Elite Airways’ commitment to expanding opportunities in our home state of Maine, and to bringing new business to Sugarloaf and surrounding communities,” says John Pearsall, President of Elite Airways. In the same breath, Joe Christopher, President of Sugarloaf Inn states, “We’re looking forward to exposing Elite Airway’s guests to all that Maine’s Western Mountains region has to offer.”

For more information or to book a vacation package, call the airline at 877-393-2510 or visit its website at EliteAirways.com.

Photo courtesy of Elite Airways.

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