SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) named the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) the winner of the 2014 Commercial Service Airport of the Year at the Florida Airports Council’s Annual Conference held this week in Jacksonville, Florida.
Beginning in 1993, the FDOT Aviation and Spaceports Office has considered Florida’s commercial airports for the award of Commercial Service Airport of the Year, based on three categories: Safety, Aesthetics, and Airport Management.
This is the third time that SRQ has been awarded the prestigious award. Previously, FDOT named SRQ the first ever “Commercial Service Airport of the Year” in 1993, and again in 2007.
Mr. Aaron N. Smith, FDOT State Aviation Manager states, "I congratulate Mr. Piccolo, the staff at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. It is our honor to recognize them for all they have accomplished and their commitment to providing a safe and efficient commercial airport."
"We're very pleased about it. We're very happy to have been selected and hopefully it's a confirmation of the efforts we've been making to improve the facility, to improve air service, and to improve our financial position as well," said Rick Piccolo, President and CEO of SRQ Airport.
According to FDOT, the recent renovations and overall aesthetics within the airport is what sets SRQ apart. Landscaping, grounds maintenance, and parking features rank highest.
When judged on airport management, JDOT found SRQ to be financially stable and maximizing their service to travelers. And when it comes to safety, police actively patrol the parking lots and terminals.
"We have our own police force that's fully certified like any other department. The other thing we added this year though, is we added what is a virtual fence around our parking lots so that it's monitored 24/7,” explained Piccolo.
So what do the commuters themselves think?
Flying out of SRQ for the first time, traveler Terry from Indianapolis says he's already impressed.
"I flew into Miami, spent a lot of time out on the west coast flying in through LAX, and so far I like it. No lines, extremely clean, and my experience has been a good one."
For one Venice businessman, flying out of SRQ almost weekly, nothing beats the convenience.
"This is one of the most civilized airports I’ve been around,” says Dave Hilligoss. “I mean it's easy to get in, easy to get out. The parking when you're picking up people is great so it's a great place to come to if it's convenient for you."
But he says there's one thing lacking: more flight destinations.
"I wish that you know, being again a United flyer, if they had one more over towards Houston and up the east coast of Newark or Washington, that would help me a lot."
Following this recognition, SRQ plans to be completely debt free—for the first time in 25 years—by the end of this month.