Travel outlook at Southwest Florida International Airport

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:

Traveling the last couple of years has been up and down.

As in, let’s see if my plane goes up and if these prices ever come down.

Along the way, something unusual happened.

For two months in a row, air travel at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) was off by a lot, about 20% year over year.

“Here’s the issue, and it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of airports to handle this,” said CBS travel reporter Peter Greenberg. “The airlines were over-scheduled.”

That, Greenberg said, will have a huge impact in some parts of the U.S. Greenberg was in Southwest Florida recently to find some of its hidden gems.

“So you’re going to see city after city in this country lose service, not less service, lose service,” Greenberg said. “By the end of next month, Toledo, Ohio, will have no service to American, United or Delta. The airport will be a ghost town.”

So what does that mean for Southwest Florida?

The area is used to announcements of new cities to fly to and warnings about in-season waits in line that could take two hours.

RSW is expanding to keep up.

“The demand is really going to come back next year,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg said there is a post-pandemic travel surge that filled planes and packed airports, sending year-to-date air travel numbers up despite the recent downturn.

CBS Travel reporter Peter Greenberg (CREDIT: WINK News)

Add in staffing shortages, inflation and fuel prices, it’s a perfect storm, Greenberg said.

This means there could be hidden bargains to be found.

“They traveled, they paid a lot of money, those credit card bills just came in. And they’re sitting there and sticker shock saying, I paid how much for that flight. So then make a determination right now; I’m not flying for the rest of the year,” Greenberg said.

If you want to book, Greenberg has some very specific recommendations.

“There is a new effort to get people to the prices, as we’re speaking today, are 20%. Actually, I think they’re back there 27% less than they were in May,” Greenberg said.

With travel demand expected to be off, prices are already dropping, Greenberg said.

“It’s a buyer’s market starting Sept. 8,” Greenberg said. “That’s when you strike.”

As for the problem with smaller cities losing service, that might cut into the numbers at RSW, but Greenberg said the solution will from smaller, upstart airlines that provide nonstop service to places visitors want to come from.

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