By LIZ HARDAWAY
PUNTA GORDA — The airport is growing, meaning more people and more destinations.
Last year, the Punta Gorda Airport beat all their enplaned passenger projections, and had more than 790,000 passengers deplane into Punta Gorda.
A booming airport not only generates more revenue locally, but can also take residents to more destinations. Allegiant Travel Company announced recently it plans to unveil more destinations from PGD sometime in August.
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 is $28 million — $17.5 million less than last year’s anticipated budget. However, the board did overshoot its fiscal year 2018-2019 projections and came $23.4 million under the planned $42.5 million budget. The board forecasts this fiscal year to end at just under $19.1 million.
“We don’t want to overestimate,” said Punta Gorda Airport CEO James Parish, with the budget’s operating gain coming over-budget since 2012. “It’s easy to run an airport in the black.”
Most of what was lost in last year’s budget was supposed to go toward capital projects.
However, not a penny of the proposed operations budget comes from taxpayer dollars. Anticipated funds from federal and state grants come from various taxes such as fuel and ticket taxes, Parish said.
“No Charlotte County taxpayer dollars are paid to us,” airport spokesperson Kaley Miller told the Sun last year.
The board has seen some hiccups in funding for their anticipated projects, such as a new general aviation facility ramp and taxiway.
The airport did receive a $6.4 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for wetland mitigation and rehabilitating one of their runways.
The airport also projects earning $22.45 per passenger, and spending $6.50 per passenger, in 2020, according to the budget.
PGD has more than $14.7 million in cash, with $6.4 million of that designated as unrestricted.
“We’re going to burn a lot of that capital,” Parish said.
A majority of the reserved cash is earmarked for various projects identified in the master plan, according to Commissioner Robert Hancik.