Sanford airport soars to the top in Wall Street Journal survey

Sanford’s airport is ranked No. 2 in the nation for growth.

In a study commissioned by the Wall Street Journal, Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) saw the number of departures increase 71.4% from 2011 to 2015.

The study, which was conducted by masFlight and OAG, compared the number of airline departures for the week of July 15 for the years 2011 to 2015.

During that time frame there were 98 departures from SFB in 2011 and 168 departures this year.

Click to enlarge. Graphic by Wall Street Journal. Data provided by masFlight/OAG

The only airport to outperform Sanford’s was St. Petersburg/Clearwater (PIE),which had a 93.9% increase – 65 departures in 2011 to 126 this year.

Both Sanford and St. Pete bucked a trend uncovered in the study: many airports, including some of the nation’s largest, are losing traffic.

The reason? Massive merger in the airline industry. In 2000, there were nine major airlines in the U.S.: American airlines, TWA, America West, U.S. Airways, Delta, North West, United, Continental and Southwest.

Today there are four giant airlines: American, Delta, United and Southwest.

Those mergers have led to the closing of smaller connecting hubs, fewer flights from major airports and drastically reduce – or canceled – service to smaller cities.

Those reductions could be an opportunity for airports like SFB and PIE. Growth at both airports is exclusively because of the expansion of Allegiant Airlines.

The low-cost carrier typically flies to smaller, under-served cities, but in the last year has begun service to larger cities like Cincinnati that has seen a 29% decrease in the number of flights.

– by Dan Ping


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