Airport looks for ways to recoup recent losses

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Still dealing with the financial fallout from the loss of AirTran, officials at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) say they're anticipating almost $800,000 worth of lost revenue for 2014. Now the airport is looking at several new ways to increase revenue.

But how will this impact travelers? AirTran made up a third of the airport’s business. Now that it’s gone, they're trying to recoup those losses.

The plan is to increase several different fees, although the good news for travelers is that the impact on their pocketbooks is going to be pretty minimal.

Even after a year, SRQ is still reeling from AirTran's decision to take off.

"It’s been about as difficult as we anticipated it to be." Airport CEO Rick Piccolo says they've been able to recoup about 65% of lost revenue, but there’s still a ways to go. “In the big scheme of things, we've recovered an awful lot."

To keep that recovery going, the airport is now looking at making some changes, starting in the parking lot. "The only other area where we proposed any kind of price increase was an increase in the maximum amount in our short term parking, and we proposed to increase that by one dollar," says Piccolo.

Landing fees for planes will also see a bump, up from 69 cents to 89 cents for every 1,000 pounds of weight. However, because airlines are operating more efficiently with fewer flights, that increase won't be passed on to fliers.

"I don't think they'll see any impact whatsoever," says Piccolo.

Despite the attempts at bringing in more money, overall revenue is expected to be down more than 4%, totaling out to around $800,000 worth of lost revenue and more than 53,000 fewer travelers.

Passengers though say that while operating fees may be changing, the convenience factor doesn't. "It was closer to where we were staying…it’s like 15 minutes away," says Alyssa Mackevich.

It’s people like that the airport is hoping to hang on to during this recovery. Based on what the airlines themselves are doing, it seems many local travelers are still choosing to use SRQ as opposed to Tampa International.

"JetBlue is up 32% this year; they've added Boston, they've added Laguardia, Delta added Laguardia, and they're up 11%," says Piccolo.

Really the only tangible impact on travelers will be that one dollar parking increase, and at this point that is still just a proposal.