That’s the message Engel & Völkers Longboat Key/Anna Maria Island President/broker Ray Alexander and agent Tina Rudek are hoping the Hamburg-based Condor Air will hear if it reaches its goal of $300,000 in pledges from local business leaders. The pledges are value-incentive commitments to the German airline for offering direct flights to and from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). At press time, airport and airline officials, along with local tourism leaders, were meeting in Frankfurt to discuss the potential flights.
Alexander and Rudek kicked off Operation Condor earlier this month, and, since then, they have garnered at least $118,300 in pledges from businesses located from Sarasota to Anna Maria Island, including a $100,000 pledge from the Longboat Key Club and Resort.
“I think we’re going to reach our goal, if not by the end of the week, then by the end of the month,” Rudek said.
The campaign seeks pledges for marketing and other services, rather than a cash commitment. According to Rudek, the airline’s plan to possibly offer two direct flights a week beginning in 2011 could have a $10 million a year economic impact on the area.
Longboat Key Club General Manager Michael Welly said that he hopes the club’s commitment will spur other business leaders to make pledges.
“Germany is a very big market for Sarasota and Longboat Key,” Welly said. “Right now, Britain is the top European country supporting the area, but this could set the ball rolling for other airlines to consider the area.”
Welly said that the Key Club’s commitment would probably be spread over a two- to three-year period and would be used for marketing services. Welly said the Key Club would possibly be willing to host parties and events to promote the airline’s services.
Rudek said that the corporate office of Engel & Völkers, which is headquartered in Hamburg, has pledged $8,300, while she has pledged an additional $2,500 in the form of overseas mailouts and advertising. Chiles Restaurant Group owner Ed Chiles has also pledged $2,500.
Tom Aposporos, president of the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce, said that he has been privately e-mailing business leaders for support of Operation Condor.
“The idea is to encourage German travelers to spend time right here in our area as opposed to flying to an airport nearby us and possibly spending more time in that area,” Aposporos said.
Rudek, a native of Germany, said that she knows firsthand how beneficial the airline’s service could be. She plans to return to Germany this week and will have to fly from SRQ to Atlanta to Frankfurt. She estimates that a direct flight could save her as much as 10 hours of travel time.
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