SARASOTA-BRADENTON INT'L AIRPORT - A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claims SRQ suffered the largest decrease in flight departures within the state.
Departures have dropped 38% between 2007 and 2012. That works out to about a 24% reduction in available airline seats.
"The airport is never going to be anything with an airport in Ft. Myers and an airport in Tampa. Anyone with two cents knows that," said Paul Sloan, a traveler from Sarasota.
There are several arguments as to why the numbers are the way they are. One conclusion is that the price of tickets are usually greater than purchasing a ticket out of a larger airport like Tampa.
Yet, not everyone seems to mind. "As long as you get tickets a month in advance, the prices are not that bad compared to Tampa," said Darren Adams, a traveler from Nokomis.
Another reason for the decrease in departures is certainly do to Continental and Air Tran discontinuing service out of the airport during that time period.
Yet, over the last year or so, airport officials have made some much needed headway. "You have JetBlue adding flights to Laguardia and Boston year round, and you have United back to the airport after a 15-year departure," said Airport President Rick Piccolo. "I don't want people to despair. We are doing okay. We are in fine shape financially. We run a surplus every year and we are running a surplus again this year."
Also over the last year, airport personnel spent around $125,000 on a new marketing campaign called, Do you SRQ? It's a way of trying to lure back locals to the airport using print, broadcast and social media. As to how successful that program has been, that remains unclear, but it will certainly be a subject of conversation at a meeting on Monday between airport officials, discussing the state of SRQ.