Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers is busier than ever. In the first quarter of 2021, it ranked as the 30th busiest U.S. airport with more than 5.5 million travelers passing through security. Now, it has broken into the top 25, ranking 24th with more than 3 million travelers in the first three months of 2022, according to TSA Daily Reports and Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
In January, February and March of this year, the airport already has seen 3,708,480 passengers, which is about a 44% increase from last year’s numbers. That’s about a 1.6% increase in passenger traffic compared to pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.
More than 1.5 million passengers traveled through RSW in March alone, which was a 30% increase compared to March of last year. “March 2022 was the busiest month in the 39-year history of our airport, as well as the best month recorded at Page Field in nearly 40 years,” says Ben Siegel, CPA, C.M., executive director of the Lee County Port Authority.
The traffic leader in March was Delta with 284,407 total passengers, followed by Southwest with 254,061 passengers, United with 197,294 passengers, Spirit with 188,373 passengers and American with 180,542 passengers. The airport also had 12,168 aircraft operations, which was a 6.1% increase compared to March of last year.
Ranking at 24, Southwest Florida International Airport is just behind Philadelphia and Salt Lake City, both of which had slightly more than 2 million travelers in January and February. Fort Myers is in front of Austin and Washington (D.C.) National, which had nearly 1.8 million travelers each.
As a local comparison, Sarasota Bradenton Airport, which is comparable to Southwest Florida International Airport with 11 airline partners and 53 nonstop destinations, has seen slightly more than 1 million passengers in the first three months of 2022.
RSW set a new record in 2021, serving more than 10.3 million passengers. “Currently, there is considerable demand for leisure travel and people are eager to visit Southwest Florida to take advantage of its beautiful beaches, fantastic weather and the welcoming atmosphere of our region,” says Victoria Moreland, Lee County Port Authority chief communications and marketing officer.
On the global scale, Southwest Florida International Airport has a preliminary rank of 105 for 2021. The final rankings for global and regional airports will be published in the fall by the Airports Council International. The airport served 10,322,434 passengers in 2021, which was a 72.66% increase from 2020, according to Airports Council International.
Southwest Florida International Airport has 14 airline partners with 60 nonstop cities. It serves Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties and is expanding its terminal to improve airport efficiency and provide passengers with more amenities and options. The $331 million expansion project started in October 2021 and is expected to take three years to complete.