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New flights, international travel set to spur more SWFL growth

Phil Fernandez | Naples Daily News May 25, 2021

Southwest Florida International had a month like no other, and like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game baseball hitting streak, a record that likely will never, ever be matched.

April, with its 1.1 million travelers, brought an unheard of 2,000% surge from over a year ago, when a paltry 53,000 passed through the gates early in the pandemic, according to a subscriber exclusive story by Laura Layden.

And while that’s largely domestic, more will begin arriving from overseas as rising numbers are vaccinated and restrictions are reduced. Look for arrivals first from places such as the United Kingdom, Canada and eventually Germany, where Lufthansa Group bookings began Wednesday for its new 2022 Eurowings Discover flights to Fort Myers.

Even without the numerous Europeans who normally come, RSW still ranks No. 1 in the nation in passenger recovery ahead of No. 2 Phoenix, based on counts from January through April and comparing 2021 to 2019, the airport’s Victoria Moreland said.

“We’ve recovered 77% of our traffic, compared to 2019, which was our banner year, best year ever,” Moreland said.

Minnesota migration
Where are many of these folks coming from?

The Northeast, the Midwest and in particular, Minnesota, which is increasingly standing out.

Five different airlines come here from Minneapolis, topping everywhere else, although it’s the 16th largest metro area in the nation. It also provided more fliers to the region in 2020 than any other spot except Chicago, the busy hub for the nation and the world.

And as In the Know has reported, Minnesotans are involved in a lot of growth and development in Southwest Florida.

More growth and development news
Southwest Florida is a focus of expanding carriers that not only substantially have increased local direct flights to Lee County, but one is adding Punta Gorda Airport as a destination as well.

While industries, such as the airlines, recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis, others, including in Southwest Florida, grew and expanded their business efforts in the fight against COVID-19, writer David Dorsey reported.

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