MANATEE -- Passenger traffic at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is down just more than 1 percent for the first six months of 2011.
But airport Executive Director Rick Piccolo, who attributed the passenger drop to the stagnant economy, predicted the airport likely will see an increase in traffic over the next several months and end the year with about the same number of passengers as last year.
“The drop is not significant,” Piccolo said. “What we’re seeing is the same thing we’re seeing in the economy, that we’re just kind of bumping along. By the end of the year, we’ll likely be flat.
“I sometimes say to people no growth is the new growth, because we’re not going backward.”
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Overall, 737,843 passengers have used the airport from January to June 2011. That’s about 1.3 percent less than the 747,656 passengers who used the airport in the first six months of 2010.
Piccolo said he’s optimistic that passenger traffic will increase over the next several months based on estimates provided by three of the airport’s four airlines.
Delta, U.S. Airways, and Jet Blue are all projecting increased landed weights, meaning they’ll either be adding another flight or using a larger aircraft for a flight.
A total of 87,085 passengers arrived at or departed from the airport in June, compared to 93,541 passengers in June 2010.
The airport also showed a 3.81 percent decrease in passengers from May 2010, when 109,447 passengers came or went, to May 2011, when 105,272 people arrived or departed from the airport.
Traffic had increased in March and April over last year’s monthly tallies, and was down slightly in January and February over last year.
Piccolo also said that so far, upcoming projects at the Sarasota Bradenton airport are unaffected by a nationwide furlough of 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees, created by an impasse among congressional leaders over FAA funding.
The airport is awaiting FAA processing of grants for roof work and a taxiway. Piccolo said those projects, slated to begin in September, would be delayed only if the congressional impasse continues for several more weeks.
Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.