Easy As PIE: St. Pete-Clearwater Airport’s Record-Breaking December

St. Pete-Clearwater broke monthly passenger records on three occasions last year, including December, thanks to adding two new airlines, multiple additional routes, and capacity growth on existing services. In the Christmas month, it celebrated 15 years of Allegiant service, with the ultra-low-cost carrier responsible for 97% of the airport’s capacity.

Allegiant Air Airbus A320-214 N248NV
Allegiant celebrated its 15th anniversary at St. Pete-Clearwater in December 2021. It first served the airport in December 2006 and had 12 routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Easy as PIE

Located about 17 miles (27km) from central Tampa and well-positioned for the Tampa Bay area, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (IATA code: PIE) had a record-breaking December. It welcomed over 200,000 passengers, its busiest festive month ever, up by 2% over pre-pandemic December 2019.

According to the airport’s passenger statistics, it also had record passenger volume in June 2021 (4.6% higher than 2019) and July (+7.0%). And November was just 91 passengers short of being record-breaking. As a reminder of the pandemic, St. Pete-Clearwater welcomed just over two million passengers last year, 11% lower than in 2019.

As it is unusual for an airport to break records in the current environment, this monthly performance is great to see. Outdoor leisure destinations have seen a surge in leisure demand, and Florida is no exception.

St Pete-Clearwater's monthly passenger traffic in 2021
The highlighted months all had the highest-ever passenger numbers. Source of data: St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

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Two new airlines in 2021

Think St. Pete-Clearwater, think Allegiant. According to Cirium data, the ultra-low-cost carrier had 97% of the airport’s December seats, a reminder of just how dominant it is there. Significantly, Swoop and Sun Country began service, increasing the airport’s portfolio and route map.

In early November, Canada’s Swoop launched Toronto Pearson, marking the first international flight to St. Pete-Clearwater since 2020. A few weeks later, Hamilton started. Looking ahead to March, there will be five weekly flights to Canada – the highest number ever.

Sun Country also began in November. It added the 1,307-mile (2,103km) link from its home airport of Minneapolis; it runs on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays using B737-800s and B737-700s. Sun Country now serves ten airports across Florida, including Tampa itself. (In 2014, the carrier briefly served St. Pete-Clearwater from Gulfport-Biloxi.)

Swoop St Pete cake
I love new route celebrations and cakes (or PIE). Toronto’s inauguration received a traditional water salute as the aircraft approached its stand. Indoors, guests received cake from a local baker. The cake featured sweeping St. Pete-Clearwater vistas and several Canadian icons. Photo: St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

Multiple routes added, and more are coming

As shown below, some ten routes began (or restarted) last year, including the long link to Provo, Utah, with Allegiant. At 1,857 miles (2,989km), it is comfortably the longest route from St. Pete-Clearwater. Operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays, it has a block time to Utah of five hours – the third-longest route in the ULCC’s network by duration.

  • Allegiant: Fargo (served 2013-2017), Northwest Arkansas, Key West, Little Rock, Portsmouth (2016-2017), Provo, Wichita
  • Sun Country: Minneapolis
  • Swoop: Toronto Pearson, Hamilton
St Pete-Clearwater and Allegiant
Allegiant will launch two more routes from the airport. Photo: St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

Cirium data indicates that various existing routes saw increased capacity, notably Tulsa (+98% more seats for sale in 2021 than 2019), Tri-Cities (+65%), Hagerstown (+55%), Dayton (+39%), Nashville (+29%), Cincinnati (+26%), and Flint (+23%). Looking Allegiant will launch Akron-Canton on March 4th, followed by Clarksburg, West Virginia, on March 11th.

Have you flown to/from the airport? Share your experiences in the comments.