Harbor Style Harbor Style June 2017 : Page 96

Story by Carol Bruyere I Ph Photography by Steve Donaldson (FAA identification ion of PGD) is experiencing rapid iencing r ike the Charlotte growth just like County population is. Annual popula assenger traffic data shows passenger that the number of passengers enplaning and deplaning at PGD in 2010 was just 182,423. In 2016, that number soared – no pun intended – to 1,118,303. According to the Charlotte County Airport Authority, which owns and operates the airport, February of 2017 was the 40th consecutive month the airport has seen an increase in “year over year” monthly traffic. The passenger count for February 2016 was 91,130 boarding and arriving commercial passengers, while 109,866 were tallied in February 2017 – a 28.26 percent increase. March 2017 saw a 23.32 percent increase from March 2016, with 69,630 boarding passengers and 72,172 arriving passengers, for a total of 141,802. The 12-month total, ending March 31st, was 1,186,786 passengers. Jennifer Smith, CCPA’s public information officer and assistant director, said that PGD is one of the top two Southwest Florida airports for passenger count growth. Burnt Store Marina snowbirds Tina and Jeff Duff travel from PGD to their other home near the Iowa-Illinois border. Tina recently was quoted as saying, “A smaller airport serving smaller towns appeals to a lot of people.” T he Punta Gorda Airport p “We are proud of our continuing passenger counts because we know that many of our Charlotte County visitors will see and experience the great lifestyle we have to offer and will want to return or eventually become residents,” said CCAA Chairman Paul Andrews. Andrews commented in mid-March, “Now that our season is winding down, year-round residents will be planning their vacations and weekend getaways to one of the 35 destination cities we service.” James Parish, P.E, PGD’s executive director since October, has been a consultant for the airport since the mid-90s and was appointed assistant director in 2005. Parish, who has all of PGD’s departments under his management, said he spends time in Washington, D.C. and Tallahassee working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation to effectively manage PGD’s operations and growth. “Commercial flight growth is challenging and exciting,” he said. “I would much rather be challenged by growth than by shrinkage.” Growth, of course, means change. PGD, originally the Punta Gorda Army Airfield, was constructed in 1941 to train combat pilots for World War II. After the war, the airport was turned over to the county and was known as the Charlotte County Airport. The airport was renamed in 2011, becoming the Punta Gorda Airport. ³ 96 | H ARBOR STYLE

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