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June passenger traffic falls off at SRQ, compared to 2021

Still, numbers for the year indicate the airport is on its way to another record.

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Even with a year-over-year drop in passenger traffic at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in June, the destination’s chief executive said SRQ likely will still break its year-old 12-month record for arrivals and departures for 2022.

Rick Piccolo, SRQ's president and CEO, said the airport is part of a nationwide trend of cutbacks by the airlines in the regularity of some flights, reducing the number of landings and takeoffs. But, he said, the aircraft that are serving SRQ are generally near capacity.

In May, according to an airport activity report, there were 2,572 airline operations for that month, compared to 2,800 in May 2021. Still 332,431 passengers either arrived or departed in May, a 15.21% increase year over year.

In June, 288,420 passengers used the airport, a 7.8% decrease in traffic, though more than 1.45 million passengers have passed though year to date, an increase of 43%.

"We are starting to see a slight dip in the number of flights scheduled for our summer months," Piccolo said in a statement. "However, the aircraft servicing our airport is operating with much higher passenger loads than last year. This follows a nationwide trend of flight reductions due to much higher fuel prices, airline staffing shortages, and fears of a recession."

Piccolo said the airport expects to surpass 3.5 million passengers for the year, which would break a record set last year.

Piccolo also said the airport expects the return of Air Canada’s direct flights to Toronto in the fall. The airline’s website indicates the route will be initially flown by an Airbus 321.

Allegiant, which announced a new flight to Minnesota in May, expects to begin flying it in October. 

With an eye toward growth and the need to better serve customers, the airport will by fall embark on a $72 million design-build project to add a ground-based boarding facility capable of serving upwards of 2.5 million passengers a year through five new gates. Combined with the current 13 gates, SRQ’s capacity will be about 5 million annual travelers.