Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport

Fort Myers is on a roll. It is the US’ best-performing airport by added seats since summer 2019, with an additional three million. This is from eight US airlines all growing, together with welcoming Alaska Airlines. And 35 existing routes have increased – up by a phenomenal median of 81%.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
Southwest has added the most seats at Fort Myers this summer, with its route map growing from 19 to 25. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Fort Myers has added over three million seats this summer compared to summer 2019, up by over 57%. It has strongly benefited from the renowned focus on leisure getaways during the pandemic. It is now the US’ 39th-largest airport, up by 11 places.

Simple Flying recently examined 455 US airports and found that 192 have exceeded pre-pandemic capacity this summer, with Fort Myers in pole position. It is, for now, the US’ standout performer, with Florida as a whole up by a considerable 11 million.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
Delta has added the second-highest number of seats since S19. The Boeing 757 remains its primary aircraft at Fort Myers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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Over eight million seats this summer

Fort Myers has 8.2 million seats this summer, analyzing OAG data reveals. It remains the fifth-largest airport in Florida, but the gap between it and number-four, Tampa, has narrowed.

It’s interesting to see how Fort Myers’ seasonality has changed over the years. At the start of the decade, summer 2011 (S11) had more seats than winter (W11). That has continually changed with winter becoming more and more popular. Indeed, between W11 and W19, capacity rose by 69%; for S11-S19, it was up by just 18%. Coronavirus has made summertime more popular than ever.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
Notice the increasing winter seasonality. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Why is Fort Myers up?

All US airlines that served Fort Myers in S19 have increased service this summer. Southwest has added the most, as follows, although United has more than doubled its offering.

  1. Southwest: +899,484 two-way seats; +96.5%
  2. Delta: +699,755; +58.9%
  3. United: +577,956; +112.7%
  4. Spirit: +399,508; +96.0%
  5. American: +353,839; +41.4%
  6. Frontier: +124,500; +29.5%
  7. JetBlue: +84,578; +13.0%
  8. Sun Country: +23,379; +21.4%

Alaska Airlines added Fort Myers in November 2020 with two routes from Los Angeles and Seattle, while WestJet is continuing to operate from Toronto.

In all, Fort Myers has 10 passenger airlines this summer, down from 11 in S19. Air Canada, which normally operates during the summer, is set to return from November 1st. Meanwhile, Eurowings no longer serves Düsseldorf, a route it began in 2018 after replacing Air Berlin.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
United has grown its Fort Myers network from five to nine. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

47 routes this summer

Fort Myers’ route map has decreased from 51 routes in S19 to 47. 10 routes aren’t operating this summer: Albany, Düsseldorf, Gulfport, Las Vegas, Miami, Omaha, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Ottawa, and Montreal. The two Canadian routes will return this winter.

In contrast, six routes weren’t operating in S19 but now are: Houston Hobby, Los Angeles, Louisville, Orlando, Seattle, and Washington Dulles.

Southwest launched the 133-mile service to Orlando in November 2020 after ending it eight years earlier. This route is designed for connectivity over Orlando, although Simple Flying showed that the airport wasn’t one of Southwest’s top-10 transit airports in 2020. No surprise given its geographic location.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
Fort Myers has 47 routes this summer. Image: OAG.

35 routes have risen

More important than the above, though, is what has happened to routes that operated in S19 and are this summer too. Of these, 35 have seen capacity growth, up by a median of 81%. That is huge.

Record-Breaking: Fort Myers Is The US’ Fastest-Growing Airport
Spirit now has 15 routes from Fort Myers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Top-15 growth routes

O’Hare is up the most, with nearly 400,000 additional seats, with the top-15 growth routes shown below. This is from solid rises at United (+135%), American (+99%), Frontier (+67%), Spirit (+57%), together with Southwest joining the party. In a mid-August week, O’Hare will have 75 weekly departures, up from ‘just’ 30 two years ago.

  1. Chicago O’Hare: +387,316 added seats; +104.8%
  2. Minneapolis: +346,736; +140.7%
  3. Detroit: +337,438; +105.7%
  4. Newark: +140,236; +45.2%
  5. Chicago Midway: +129,630; +120.1%
  6. Charlotte: +115,846; +38%
  7. Denver: +112,960; +120.1%
  8. Cleveland: +110,556; +81%
  9. Indianapolis: +107,242; +114.5%
  10. Atlanta: +99,398; +13.0%
  11. Baltimore: +97,610; +40.6%
  12. Dallas Fort Worth: 95,112; +44.7%
  13. Milwaukee: +87,376; +255.4%
  14. Cincinnati: +83,816; +72.2%
  15. Columbus: +83,292; +90.0%

The question is: will this enhanced service remain when things return to normal? Comment below!