Photo by WINK News.

Improvement of passenger and air traffic underway at RSW airport

During season, security lines at the airport creates challenges.

Work is underway to improve Southwest Florida International Airport’s ability to handle current passenger and air traffic Friday.

The airport hopes to become a major hub,  but it won’t happen in the near future. In order for the airport to expand, RSW needs more airlines to fly there more often, especially out of season. Negotiations are underway to hopefully make that happen.

A $170 million terminal expansion project is currently on the books for RSW. This comes as exciting news for frequent flyers like Judy England.

“We have so many people coming in here from all over,” England said. “That the quicker you can come in and the quicker you can get out matters to a lot of travelers.”

The current terminal will be completely updated, including more security lines for faster entry.

Executive Director Tamara Pigott of Lee County Visitors & Convention bureau told WINK News as much as 70 percent of visitors fly to RSW.

“So having an airport that is accessible that can handle the level visitation that comes in is critical,” Pigott said.

But in season, travel is not enough to convince the government to OK an extension of the terminal and the addition of a second runway. Crowds must be consistent at the airport on a yearly basis. That is why the airport is trying to direct flights all around the world, hoping to get more direct flights here to Southwest Florida, especially in the off season.

“That’s a huge advantage on those international flights because our international visitors tend to visit us in the summer months when we do need the business,” Pigott said.

While the crowds continue to grow, the number of flights inbound and outbound are down 9,000 compared to 10 year ago. This is because the airlines are using bigger plans. RSW saw 9.4 million visitors— 500,000 more than the previous year.

“It’s great I can go see my son at any time I want on a nice direct flight,” England said.

Travelers are hopeful about the future of RSW.

“It’s going to expand the number of flights you can have in and out of here,” Doug Brown said. “And that’s what’s going to make a difference.”

 

 

Reporter:Brendon Leslie
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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