SANFORD, Fla. – A countdown led to the unveiling of a new terminal at Orlando-Sanford International Airport Tuesday. The first thing many noticed was a restored PV-1 Ventura twin engine bomber sitting on the upper level, honoring former Naval Air Station Sanford. Airport officials say it’s the largest static display in a terminal in the world.
Like other airports, Orlando-Sanford has seen a tremendous downturn in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re probably going to end up 50% down for the year. We started strong and weathered the storm, we believe that traffic will get back to pre-COVID levels in maybe three to five years. We may do better given the fact we are primarily leisure service,” said President and CEO Diane Crews.
Crews said she expects travel to pick up for the holidays, especially international travel. After several years of renovations, passengers will notice some changes. Instead of separating terminals by domestic and international flights, all arrivals will be using one terminal and all departures another. Security screenings are now consolidated to one large space in the airport. Crews said the expansion could lead to new airlines and flights.
“We are working with a number of air carriers so we do believe there will be additional flights and additional service from other carriers,” said Crews. “We’re not allowed to talk about the carriers we are in conversations with ... Coming out of this process, COVID, a small airport like ours is even more attractive for someone concerned about large crowds, that’s the reality.”
Along with the changes, the airport will soon have a new CEO and President, Tom Nolan.
“He comes from Palm Springs California, which there’s a lot of airlines coming in and out of there. His mission is to tackle COVID by enticing people to use a small airport to get in and out of,” airport Board Member Clyde Robertson Jr.
There’s still a little more work to be done outside the terminal before the expansion project is complete, but stakeholders are hoping a new expansion and less crowds will persuade potential travelers to fly out of Sanford.