SRQ braces for surge in holiday travelers

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Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport expects to be a lot busier during this year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Thanks to new airlines that added more flights and destinations, officials are forecasting a “sharp increase” in passenger counts from Friday through Monday.

During that four-day period, Sarasota-Bradenton will handle 186 scheduled flights, a nearly 35% increase over last year. That works out to 24,470 scheduled seats, or 49% more than over Memorial Day in 2018.

Airport officials credit the addition of discount carriers Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines and flights to 15 new cities that were not offered last year. Their lower air fares also have helped increase travel through the airport.

“We are asking the public to arrive at the airport early to ensure a smooth transition from the curbside to the gate,” Rick Piccolo, the airport’s president/CEO, said in a news release. “Passengers should also check with their airline before arriving to ensure there are no flight delays due to weather or other operational impacts.”

Passenger traffic at Sarasota-Bradenton jumped 40% over the year in April with the addition of Allegiant and Frontier. The year-to-date count is up nearly 38%.

Allegiant and Frontier have collectively added 23 new routes to such destinations as Asheville, North Carolina; Baltimore; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas/Fort Worth; Denver; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis; Melbourne (Florida); Nashville, Tennessee; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Richmond, Virginia; Syracuse, New York; Traverse City, Michigan; and Washington, D.C.

There are now eight airlines providing nonstop service to 29 cities from Sarasota-Bradenton.

AAA projects 2.3 million Floridians will travel over the Memorial Day weekend, nearly 4% more than last year, for the strongest kickoff to the summer travel season since 2005.

Nearly 185,000 of them will travel by air, an anticipated 5.3% gain from last year. AAA defines the holiday as Thursday through Monday.

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