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SRQ celebrates debt-free status of its terminal

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport has been providing service on the Suncoast since 1939. Monday, the airport administration celebrated becoming debt free.

The airport authority had a "Burn the Note" party to celebrate paying off the debt from the 25-year-old terminal building built in 1989. The airport has come a long way since the 1960's when jet service was first introduced at the airport and customers had to claim their baggage outside.

The airport was first built in 1939 after Sarasota and Manatee counties agreed to construct an airport in the undeveloped area on the bi-county line. During WWII, the airport was leased to Army Air Corps and served as a training base until the land was transferred back to the local government in late 1947.

In 1959, the airport celebrated the opening of a brand new terminal building and during that time, passengers would line up outside to claimed their luggage. Taxi and runway improvements were made in 1963 paving the way for the first jet service that started in 1965, with National Airlines.

“Jet service came in the 60s and the new terminal was built in 1989 and opened in October of 1989.”

International was added to the name of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in 1992 when the U.S. Customs Service gave “Port of Entry” status to the airport.

On Monday, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport celebrated the 25 year anniversary of the current modern terminal facility by burning the note of the paid off debt.  “It sets the airport forward for financial stability, keeps our prices very stable with the airlines and takes 5 million dollars out of our budget in debt payments every year,” said CEO Rick Piccolo.

The airport is currently renovating the entire terminal facility and it will be completed in a year.  “We will essentially have a new terminal and no debt,” said Piccolo. “I tell people it is a lot like getting a new home with no mortgage.”

The next phase of improvements at SRQ will include a new air traffic control tower and improvements to the roads leading into the airport.

If you want to see more of the airport's history, you can watch an in-depth historic video produced by the airport being released on Tuesday. The video will be available on the airport website