MANATEE -- Just as Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is about to free itself of long-term debt, the airport earned a top award from the Florida Department of Transportation.
FDOT named SRQ the 2014 Commercial Service Airport of the Year this week at the Florida Airports Council's annual conference in Jacksonville.
Florida has 20 commercial service airports that are members of the council. SRQ previously received the award in 1993 and 2007.
"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," said Aaron Smith, state aviation manager for FDOT.
The airport is in the midst of several upgrades, including a remodeled passenger terminal, a customs processing expansion, new traffic flow for cars and recently completed upgrades of the ticket counter and baggage claim areas. All of this is being done while the final payment for the 25-year-old terminal is due this month.
"This great achievement would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of all the airport's employees," said SRQ President and CEO Frederick "Rick" Piccolo. "Winning this award is a positive reflection on all of our efforts."
Plans are still in the works to build a new air traffic control tower and relocating it in the infield to allow development for hotels and other commercial buildings. Also, the airport is working with Manatee County to build a new East Airport Access Road to connect to 15th Street East.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.