NAPLES, Fla - The 2013 tourist season is about to kick off, but one Naples business isn't seeing the boost that others are getting from visitors.
Flight traffic coming in and out of the Naples Airport is down nearly 50 percent from where it was in 2005.
When the economy tanks, the luxury items like private planes are the first to go and aviation is also the last to come back in an economic recovery.
In fact, airport leaders don't think they'll be back to that 2005 peak until the year 2030.
On the surface, the runways at Naples Airport continue to see both corporate and private travelers make the trip to Naples. "I probably make 10 or 15 round trips over the course of the winter," says Tony Markel, a snow bird who splits time between Naples and Richmond, Virginia.
But, behind the scenes, the revenue isn't adding up like it once did. "We do not have any taxing authority, so we can't tax people to get money. We have to make it on the ramp," says Executive Director Ted Soliday.
In 2005, airport traffic peaked with more than 160,000 arrivals and departures, but now traffic is nearly cut in half.
Soliday points to higher fuel prices and companies cutting back on corporate flight programs. "If you're really down in the seasonal times, you're not going to make it up in the summer time, so we're being very cautious to not over spend right now," says Soliday.
Soliday says they have some open positions, but are holding off on hiring for now. The Airport Authority Board also changed its 2013 outlook from expanding to maintaining.
As for commercial flights, like the JetBlue deal that fell through, Soliday says it's still something they're eyeing, but not to financially benefit the airport as much as the local economy.
"We believe, that the airline service, whether it's JetBlue or some other service will help our community come back stronger than ever," says Soliday.
Fuel is the airports biggest source of revenue. Soliday says next week they will ask the board for permission to buy two fuel trucks, rather than renting them. He says that will save significantly in the long run.