FORT MYERS, Fla. — Some big planes and even bigger changes are taking off for the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).
Ben Siegel, the Executive Director for the Lee Port Authority told Fox 4, RSW's new 225-foot traffic control tower is a critical component in helping them handle the growing number of travelers they see every day.
"We are breaking records compared to 2019, really every month," said Siegel.
The new tower opens the door to allow the Lee County Port Authority to build an additional parallel runway.
A project they say will take 15 years to complete, but an option that wasn't on the table before construction began.
"The existing tower is only about 120 feet up in the air and you don't have the line of sight to see all the different areas of that parallel runway that you need to. With this facility and where it's been sited, you can see both runways, the ends of both runways which is required," said Siegel.
He says it's going to take about one year for staff to transition from the old air tower to the new $80 million dollar traffic control tower.
"They will be able to grow into this for many years. They are actually going to be able to use this for staffing that they use throughout Southwest Florida as well, so it's a major upgrade for them," said Siegel.
Siegel told Fox 4, that 50% was paid for by the state of Florida and the other half came from a fee collected through airline tickets.
"So there are no Ad valorem property tax dollars that go into the operation of the airport, it’s a user fee-based airport. So you only pay for it if you use it. The passenger facility charge that is included in your ticket when you buy a ticket to fly out of Southwest Florida International Airport” said Siegel.
Siegel says they are seeing around the same amount of travelers as they did before the pandemic (2019) and expect that number to continue to grow.