PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- Major changes are just revealed for one Southwest Florida airport. After millions of dollars and months of construction, as of Tuesday night, the Punta Gorda Airport's major terminal expansion is open for business.
Citizens of Charlotte County and its elected officials cheered Tuesday morning on a day of celebration. "We're never going to be a gigantic airport, but we're employing a number of people, we believe over 300 people," says airport director Gary Quill.
Passenger traffic hit an all time high in March with over 100,000 people using the airport. And that traffic means dollars, with the last FDOT study in 2012 showing over $200 million in revenue, 2015 reached a new pinnacle. "For 2015 we had over 3 and a half times the traffic we had in 2012, so we think clearly the economic impact of the airport is in the vicinity of half a billion dollars."
And county officials hope that passenger traffic will turn transient tourist into residents. "People coming down will see the value of Charlotte County. Our real estate prices are far lower, and we have less traffic so people will see that this is just a better type of living."
A living the seven Bailey Brothers once enjoyed as residents of Punta Gorda. Now their name adorns this terminal as a tribute to their military service.
Pictures of the brothers display their happy times. And while the brothers aren't alive to witness the opening, the last Bailey widow got to take it all in. "She's been here since 1950. She was a school teacher for 32 years and her husband was one of those brothers, Bailey Brothers."
There are now 30 direct flights you can take from Punta Gorda Airport. If you're interested in working at the airport you can apply online at the Charlotte County website.