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Tue, Mar 30, 2004

Sarasota Puts Bounty On New Air Service

Airport Authority Willing To Pay For Expanded Flight Schedule

So you say you're an airline, down on your luck? Well, no more. All you need to do is land in Sarasota (FL). Often.

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is trying to lure more low-fare airlines to its runways. So the idea is pretty simple: Offer them cash. Two million dollars, to be precise.

Right now, the airport is served by just one scheduled carrier -- ATA. Airport officials bemoan the limited number of departures and arrivals, so they want more airlines to show up at the gate. They also hope more airlines will mean cheaper fairs into and out of the West Florida city, located just south of Tampa-St. Petersburg.

There's local precedence for the offer. Two years ago, Tallahassee (FL) offered ATA a $1.5 million guarantee for scheduling service into and out of the state capital. Sarasota-Bradenton is just one of several airports in Florida hoping to lure new nonstop service from points north and west.



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