Southwest Florida International Airport
Over the course of 2011, Southwest Florida International Airport provided flights for more than seven and a half million passengers. Each day, the airport is able to handle approximately 20,000 passengers on an average of about 230 flights. The airport has served more than 140 million passengers since the date it opened in 1983, and it is consistently ranked as one of the 50 busiest airports in the United States, even though it only has a single runway.
History of the Airport
Plans for Southwest Florida International Airport, which has an IATA designation of RSW, were initially formulated in 1973. At this time, the popularity of air travel in the region had risen to the point where existing air fields and other facilities in the region simply could not keep up with increased traffic and newer aircraft. Government leaders from Lee County decided to place the facility conveniently near Interstate 75, which was being built at the time. The airport’s construction was finally begun in 1980. The airport opened as Southwest Florida Regional Airport in May of 1983. Ten years later, the facility underwent a name change to become Southwest Florida International Airport. This was done to reflect the fact that it hosted international flights in addition to a United States Customs facility. Additionally, the airport extended its runway from 8,400 feet to 12,000 feet at this time to accommodate the larger planes that were becoming more common, particularly on international flights.
Southwest Florida Airport Features
The single runway at Southwest Florida International Airport is 12,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. It is paved with asphalt. For an airport of its size, the runway is considered to be quite long. In fact, the runway, which is oriented at a direction of 6/24, features a length of more than 2.25 miles, allowing it to accommodate some of the larger planes in the airline industry. Large aircraft such as the Boeing 747 are able to use the massive runway with ease. One of the most famous 747 aircraft in the world is Air Force One. This particular aircraft, which is the plane used by the President of the United States, has been able to land and take off easily using the runway at Southwest Florida International Airport. Even though the airport and its runway are able to accommodate 747s, the largest planes that the facility sees on a regular basis are Airbus A330-300s models.
Southwest Florida International Airport is served by a single terminal building that covers nearly 800,000 square feet. By design, the terminal is able to handle approximately 10 million passengers per year. The current terminal was built to replace the original facility, which had become too small to handle passenger traffic at the airport. The original terminal featured an annual capacity of three million passengers, which was exceeded just five years into the airport’s existence. By 2004, seven million passengers were being served by the airport on an annual basis, making the construction of a new terminal a necessity.
Construction of the current terminal was completed near the end of 2005. While the old terminal only contained 19 gates and two concourses, the new terminal features three concourses and a total of 28 gates. The airport’s original terminal was demolished in 2006, thus completing the expansion project.
Parking at Southwest Florida International Airport is available in two areas. Short-term parking exists in a covered, secure garage facility situated conveniently across from the airport’s terminal structure. Long-term automobile parking is available in a spacious surface lot located near the parking garage. Additionally, the airport features a cell phone waiting area for the convenience of motorists who come to the facility to pick up passengers.