CHARLOTTE SUN (June 9, 2018) – By DANIEL SUTPHIN, STAFF WRITER
Punta Gorda Airport ranked No. 11 in a listing of the busiest airports in Florida for 2017, beating out Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport which ranked No. 12. PGD was reported to have just over 1.29 million arriving and departing passengers in a traffic and fare summary released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
SRQ in Sarasota was reported to have seen 1.16 million passengers, according to the summary of 21 state airports. “PGD has been one of the fastest-growing airports in the U.S. over the last four years,” said Kaley Miller, marketing and communications manager with the airport.
PGD’s 2017 passenger results showed a 15.65 percent increase in passenger traffic over its 1.1 million passengers in 2016. For 2018, the airline total passenger numbers were 147,871 for April alone, up by more than 20,000 from a year before. In March, the Charlotte County-based airport hit a new high, recording 192,947 airline passengers.
“In addition to Allegiant’s low-cost, nonstop flight options,” said Miller, “Charlotte County’s Tourism Development Department does an excellent job attracting visitors to our region.” The Department of Transportation tracks and summarizes passengers in takeoffs and landings, as well as average fares and reports them on its Bureau of Transportation Statistics website.
SRQ experienced a decrease in 2017 mostly due to Hurricane Irma, said Fredrick Piccolo, accredited airport executive for Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. “SRQ lost dozens of flights over four to five days due to the storm and then Delta reduced service for two months because demand was depressed some in the aftermath of the storm.”
Punta Gorda Airport has three runways on 1,819 acres of land, according to Miller. It hosts 24 aviation-related businesses, 12 non-aviationrelated businesses and around 400 in-base aircraft. They range from small, twoseat general aviation aircraft to 186-seat Airbus airliners. The Bailey Terminal hosts Allegiant Air offering nonstop service to 39 destinations.
“We have a strong, costeffective partnership with Allegiant Airlines,” said Miller.
Allegiant’s service has steadily increased as it expands route offerings, said Krysta Levy of Allegiant Media Relations.
“Allegiant flights have grown in popularity as more and more travelers learn they can hop on a low-cost, nonstop flight to Southwest Florida — a location many are already traveling to via connections on the more expensive carriers.”
In the DOT summary, it was noted that the average one-way fare rate for 2017 was only $72 in Punta Gorda, whereas Sarasota-Bradenton International’s average one-way fare rate was $216. PGD’s low rate was the second lowest in the state in 2017. The state’s lowest average rate belonged to St. Pete– Clearwater International Airport at $68.
“As our service at PGD continues, said Levy, “we hope to further expand our route offerings, while still maintaining our industrylow fares.” With that expansion, Miller said PGD is beginning a new Nashville route for travelers.
“We expect to see additional route announcements in 2018,” she said. While Allegiant Air is currently the primary airline partner flying in and out of PGD, Miller said, PGD is always open to new airline partners.
“We participate in airline service marketing efforts and communications with airlines throughout the year. Our plan is for PGD to continue its successful model of a cost-effective, efficient, ultra-low cost airport.”
She also believes its location to Interstate 75 is a major benefit to the airport. Punta Gorda Airport is a public airport, three miles southeast of Punta Gorda at 28000 Airport Road. It is owned by the Charlotte County Airport Authority and was formerly called Charlotte County Airport.