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Continental’s Departure Could Cost SRQ Up To 170,000 Passengers

With the cost of fuel skyrocketing, airlines are cutting service at airports large and small.

At one airport, Sarasota Bradenton International (SRQ), President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Piccolo says the airport could lose up to 170,000 total passengers, or roughly 10%, due to Continental Airlines’ departure.

“They don’t leave until September, so we’re hoping that the fuel environment turns around and they change their mind,” he says.

The airline still has five years left on its agreement with SRQ, meaning it will still pay the rent, but none of the costs of operating.

“It’s just that it’s cheaper to keep them on the ground than to fly them,” he says of Continental’s planes.

Piccolo says the airport is working with other carriers at the airport to make them aware that there is an opportunity there for them to pick up routes previously served by Continental.

The airport will feel the airline’s loss next year, more than this year, he says. Airport officials say they have a plan in place to hopefully offset any loss.

Plus, “we’ll keep trying to convince Continental to come back when the fuel environment changes,” Piccolo says.