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What’s driving St. Pete-Clearwater airport’s traffic

Veronica Brezina



The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. Photo by James Borchuck/PIE. All images provided.

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is outpacing its previous passenger traffic records as it readies to embark on a major expansion. 

During a Wednesday Pinellas County Tourist Development Council meeting, Jeff Clauss, who works as a director of air service development and marketing, updated the council on how PIE has set an all-time passenger record in 2022. The airport saw over 2.44 million passengers, representing a 20% increase over 2021 and a 7% increase over 2019.

“The destination saw an incredible growth rebound on the heels of Covid,” Clauss said, stating PIE broke the passenger traffic records for eight months in 2022. The new record comes as the airport is preparing to work on the design of the new $106 million terminal expansion

PIE also reported that domestic travel for 2022 increased overall by 19% and international travel increased by 819% over 2021.

Last year, Allegiant (NASDAQ: ALGT), the primary airline at PIE, launched two new nonstop routes to St. Petersburg – one from Akron, Ohio and another from Clarksburg, West Virginia. 

Clauss said Allegiant is expected to receive new aircraft this year. 

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport’s top markets. Slide was presented by PIE.

With the emergence of new flights and the expectation to add more airlines to the roster, a major component of PIE’s multi-year expansion entails building a new passenger boarding level on the second floor and adding more aircraft parking spaces. Currently, the airport has ground-level boarding.

Clauss also informed the board that the airport is adding 500 parking spaces in what’s referred to as the Strawberry Lot, which will become the primary lot on the north side of Roosevelt Boulevard. 

Site plan for PIE’s Strawberry Lot. Image: Southwest Florida Water Management District.

In responding to a question about attracting certain airline carriers and adding destinations, Clauss said it is a two-fold answer, as the airport collects data and determines the prime markets, of which they have identified 40, but the nation is continuing to face a shortage of pilots, flight crew members and attendants, which is halting progression on the overall air travel industry. He also provided the example of how some airlines are in merger talks, such as the potential merger between Spirit Airlines and JetBlue. 

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