- Orlando, Gainesville, And Sarasota-Bradenton airports received funding grants to improve and expand facilities
- Orlando’s grant of $50 million is the second-largest given across the country, trailing only Denver International Airport
- The airport infrastructure improvements will help lessen the load of increased tourism in Central Florida and beyond
Three Florida airports — Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), and Orlando International Airport (MCO) — have been selected as part of the 85 airports nationwide to receive funding grants as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law earlier this year by President Joe Biden.
GNV will receive $1.6 million while SRQ was awarded $10 million. MCO is set to receive one of the largest grants in the nation at $50 million, sitting behind only Denver Internation, which is getting $60 million in order to revamp its baggage-handling system. Orlando will allocate its large sum to construct four gates capable of serving either four wide body or eight narrow body aircraft. The project increases capacity provides ADA-compliant facilities, achieves LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and provides for increased competition.
“Americans deserve modern airports that meet the needs of their families and growing passenger demand. Funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today’s grants will improve airport terminals while also creating good jobs in communities across the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
GNV states that it will use its funding to improve a multi-modal ground transport facility. The project will consist of multi-modal ground transport facility improvements, including lighted, accessible, covered walkways to the commercial airline terminal, a covered passenger waiting area, accessible restrooms, and queuing lanes for taxis and city busses arriving and departing the terminal. The project will reduce curbside congestion, increase ADA accessibility, improve accessibility for historically disadvantaged populations, and provide construction jobs.
Meanwhile, SRQ plans to build a new concourse ground boarding facility that will add five gates and provide four additional security checkpoint lanes. Remaining finances will be used to maintain and improve the airport’s concourse B, allowing for a larger passenger capacity and expediting the functional steps taken prior to boarding.
“The work that goes in to build safer, more accessible and sustainable terminals will provide opportunities for people across the nation. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a critical investment not only in our nation’s infrastructure, but an investment in the future of our country’s workforce,” said FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims.
The grants will help ease the load on Floridian tourism infrastructure. MCO, one of the nation’s busiest airports, serves as an international gateway to locations like Disney World and St. Augustine.
Over 36 million people visited the Sunshine State during the first quarter of 2022, exceeding pre-COVID metrics and representing a 39 percent increase from the same period in 2021.
SeaWorld, which operates not only SeaWorld Orlando but also Busch Gardens in Tampa, reported increased attendance so far in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, despite the fact that international travel to its U.S. locations remains suppressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company also noted its main attractions in other states like California and Virginia were severely hampered by COVID-19 restrictions. Despite those challenges, SeaWorld said attendance was 1.9% higher than 2019, the last full year before the pandemic began.
Disney’s Parks, Experience and Products division generated a higher-than-expected total revenue of $6.7 billion in the second financial quarter of 2022, more than double that of the same period last year, per the company’s earnings report.
Revenue is 16 percent higher than the $4.2 billion that was reported in the fiscal second quarter of 2019, showing a marked improvement from even pre-pandemic metrics. Operating income additionally rose 32 percent.