Commercial Service Initiative, why Lakeland?
Located in the heart of central Florida, Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) provides airlines with lower operating costs, a simplified passenger experience, and access to the fastest growing region in the United States. In just the last year (2021) the Lakeland-Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) grew by 3% from the 2020 U.S. Census estimates of 744,552 people. In addition, the smaller 15 zip code LAL catchment area (for those whom LAL would be closer than other airports by a large margin) is home to 476,221 people.
Within the LAL catchment area alone, over 1.6 million passengers were generated in 2021 which is 2.8% of central Florida's airline demand (up from 2.7% before the pandemic began in 2019). This results in an average of 2,215 passengers per day or enough passenger demand to fill 29 76-seat regional jet departures daily. It should also be noted that LAL’s catchment area outperformed the rest of central Florida only down 15% from 2019 as compared to 20% elsewhere.
Actively seeking commercial service, LAL is targeting direct service to our top five (5) markets based on 2021 O&D (Origin & Destination) data to include No.1 New York/Newark, No.2 Washington/Baltimore, No.3 Chicago, No. 4 Denver, and No. 5 Nashville. In addition, LAL continues to seek network service to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Dulles via traditional network air carriers.
Currently LAL's market is fractured both by airport and airline usage as passengers seek the least intrusive option for their air travel needs. Tampa International retained the highest number of LAL catchment passengers in 2021 at 56.5% followed by Orlando International at 34.2%, St. Petersburg/Clearwater International at 7.3%, and Orlando/Sanford International at 2.1%. Passengers are even further distributed between airlines with the top five in 2021 including Southwest Airlines at 25.1%, American Airlines at 14.5%, Delta Airlines at 12.9%, United Airlines at 10.6%, and Spirit at 9.6%.
While we know not all 1.6 million passengers in our catchment area will choose LAL, there is a large enough demand for air service that LAL presents an attractive secondary market for airlines seeking to access the central Florida region while also serving our community’s travel needs.
Lakeland Linder International Airport Airline Catchment Area