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Naples Airport, the $440 million driveway of the rich and famous

Phil Fernandez | Naples Daily News

With the crowded stores and long lines, Dec. 26 might be best known for returning those wacky holiday gifts.

At Naples Airport, the date means returns of a different kind lining up in the sky on its “single busiest day of the year,” said Executive Director Chris Rozansky.

It serves as the unofficial beginning of the winter season for snowbirds and others flying to Collier County that runs through Easter.

The 24-hour period featured more than 500 landings and takeoffs, Rozansky said, For fun, he estimated in 2018 that translated somewhere in the range of $1.2 billion total value of the jets on the property.

This is the driveway of the rich and famous.

Maybe taken for granted as a key engine for commerce and Collier’s front door for business, the airport quietly plays a role in growth and development with its $440 million in annual economic impact, based on state Department of Transportation data.

What’s not quiet are the annoyed nearby residents who are weary of the roar. Promise. We’ll come back to this later in the column, and you’ll have a chance to have your voice heard.

Still, 98% of the aviation activity, about double the average on Dec. 26, was pretty much between its usual hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

No one’s using Santa’s reindeer to power their sleighs overhead. Thirsty planes gulped down a local all-time high of 82,068 gallons of jet fuel that solo day in 2018, only to shatter it a year later, with 87,290.

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