After the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport set a passenger record for 2021 and a monthly traffic record in December, it reached another milestone Thursday evening, when a flight from its 51st nonstop destination landed, arriving from New Haven, Connecticut.
Avelo Airlines, the airline offering the new flights, is the 11th to join the Sarasota-Bradenton airport. It operates in five other Florida cities, with SRQ joining Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Palm Beach and Tampa.
The Sarasota-Bradenton airport had a banner year in 2021, breaking its passenger record by August and reporting more than 300,000 passengers in three months last year.
On Friday, the airport reported that the previous record for number of passengers in a single month — set in July — had been broken in December with 347,268 passengers traveling through the airport.
For the year, 3,163,543 passengers used the Sarasota-Bradenton airport, a 155.7% increase compared to 2020 and 57% increase compared to 2019.
Airport officials expect 2022 to see even more increases as there are 42% more seats available in the first four months this year compared with 2021.
“For 2022, the trend of record growth is expected to continue,” an airport news release reads. “For the first four months of 2022 there are approximately 2 million airline seats available for purchase.”
Part of the increase in traffic at the airport is additional destinations. While Avelo has just started the most recent new destination of New Haven, Allegiant Airlines plans to start flights to Akron-Canton, Ohio and Appleton, Wisconsin later this year, bringing total nonstop destinations at the airport to 53.
Three years ago, the airport had just six airlines and 12 nonstop destinations.
Flights between New Haven, part of the New York metro area, and Sarasota will occur on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The Tuesday flight will depart SRQ at 5:50 pm, arriving in New Haven at 8:40 pm, and the Thursday and Sunday flights will depart SRQ at 7:45 pm and arrive in New Haven at 10:35 pm
Airport CEO Rick Piccolo said in November when the flights were announced that demand for flights between New Haven and the Sarasota/Bradenton market was determined by several factors, including property tax records, with many people having local property tax bills sent to addresses in Connecticut.
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“The Connecticut area was one area that has a lot of market viability,” Piccolo said.
Flights to New Haven also put travelers about an hour and half train ride away from New York City with those tickets costing about $50 for coach seats on Thursday, according to Amtrak.com.
The airline has offered introductory fares as low as $49 for the flights, according to a news release.
“We’re excited to begin the New Year with this new, convenient and affordable direct service to Southern Connecticut,” said Avelo Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy, in a news release. “With our very low fares and HVN’s unmatched convenience, Avelo makes getting to Connecticut and all this region has to offer easier than ever.”
Local economic and tourism development officials celebrated the Thursday flight, as it connects Sarasota to important corporate headquarters they hope to attract with sunny weather and lower taxes.
“The New Haven region abounds with corporate headquarters, wealth management companies, and New York-based, corporate decision-makers,” said Sharon Hillstrom, the Bradenton area EDC president and CEO, in a news release. “We look forward to having greater access to that market as we implement our strategic plan to recruit more businesses, jobs and capital investment to the Bradenton area.”