Orlando Sanford International Airport

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Orlando Sanford International Airport
Orlando Sanford International Airport logo.svg
Orlando Sanford International Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerSanford Airport Authority
OperatorAirports Worldwide, Inc.
ServesSanford and Orlando, Florida
LocationSanford, Florida
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL55 ft / 17 m
Coordinates28°46′40″N 081°14′15″W / 28.77778°N 81.23750°W / 28.77778; -81.23750Coordinates: 28°46′40″N 081°14′15″W / 28.77778°N 81.23750°W / 28.77778; -81.23750
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
SFB is located in Florida
Location of airport within Florida / United States
SFB is located in the United States
SFB (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
9C/27C 3,578 1,091 Asphalt
9L/27R 11,002 3,353 Asphalt
9R/27L 5,839 1,780 Asphalt
18/36 6,002 1,829 Asphalt/concrete
Statistics (2020)
Aircraft operations236,348
Total passengers1,545,041
Based aircraft (2019)326

Orlando Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB, ICAO: KSFB, FAA LID: SFB) is in Sanford, Florida, United States, near Orlando. It was built as Naval Air Station Sanford, a Master Jet Base for carrier-based attack and reconnaissance aircraft until 1969. The airport is owned and operated by the Sanford Airport Authority. It is a base for Allegiant Air.

Sanford is Orlando's secondary commercial airport, but is farther away from downtown Orlando and the major theme parks (Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando) than the primary airport, Orlando International Airport (MCO/KMCO). Because of the affiliation with Orlando, passenger traffic at Sanford was once dominated by European charter services.[2]

Since 2008, however, a majority of its passenger traffic has been domestic; this is attributable to the entrance of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, for which Sanford is a focus city.[3] Sanford was also a small focus city for the travel marketer Direct Air until the company's demise in 2012.


Naval Air Station Sanford[edit]

Orlando Sanford International Airport started life as Naval Air Station Sanford with the airport codes NRJ and KNRJ. Commissioned on November 3, 1942, the base initially concentrated on advanced land-based patrol plane training. It was used by the United States Navy until it closed in 1969.

Orlando Sanford International Airport[edit]

The City of Sanford assumed control of the former NAS Sanford in 1969 and renamed the facility Sanford Airport, hiring the air station's recently retired Executive Officer, Commander J. S. "Red" Cleveland, USN (Ret.), as the first Airport Manager. The city concurrently established the Sanford Airport Authority. For the next twenty-five years, the airport was a general aviation facility and periodically hosted civilian/military air shows and static displays. Initially an uncontrolled airfield, the control tower was reactivated in the early 1970s as a non-FAA facility, employing a number of retired enlisted Navy air traffic controllers who had served at NAS Sanford.

Additional name changes followed, to include Sanford Regional Airport, Central Florida Regional Airport, Orlando Sanford Regional Airport and the current Orlando Sanford International Airport. Through the 1980s and 1990s the oldest Navy buildings were demolished while those built in the 1950s and 1960s were renovated for civil use. New buildings and hangars were added.

OLF Osceola was transferred to the control of Seminole County, Florida, but was never officially recommissioned as an active airfield. In the 1970s the former OLF began to be used by general aviation drug-smuggling aircraft as a transshipment point. Following a major drug interdiction by local and federal law enforcement agencies, Seminole County placed large speed bumps at various intervals across the runway to deter future illegal use. By the 1980s the county began to use the site as a landfill and dump, demolishing the remaining runways.[4]


In 1992, parts of the action film Passenger 57, starring Wesley Snipes, were filmed at the then-Orlando Sanford Regional Airport, where it represented a small airport in Louisiana. Shortly after filming, a new control tower was built and air traffic control operations assumed by the FAA. The Navy control tower and the large Navy hangar to which it was attached were demolished.

In the mid-1990s, a new passenger terminal capable of accommodating jet airliners was built. Charter airlines catering to the heavy British tourist demographic that had previously been using Orlando International Airport were offered greatly reduced landing fees at Sanford, and therefore many carriers relocated their operations.

2010 - present[edit]

In 2010, Allegiant Air announced it was moving many flights to the larger and more centrally located Orlando International Airport in order to compete with AirTran Airways. Owing to passenger feedback, all flights have returned to Orlando Sanford.

In 2014, Thomas Cook Airlines moved their operations back to Orlando International Airport after almost a decade of serving Orlando Sanford with the operations of Airtours, JMC Air & My Travel. In September 2019, Thomas Cook ceased all operations.

Icelandair moved to Orlando International Airport in 2015.[5]

In March 2015, Monarch Airlines ceased operations, after entering administration, therefore resulting in the termination of their flights to Sanford. All flights were operated using their Airbus A330 and served London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow International.

In April 2016, Interjet operated flights to Mexico City. It later switched operations to the main Orlando airport from May 2018.[6][7]

In 2017 Thomson Airways (now TUI Airways) began operating routes to UK airports. This is the largest international airline at the airport serving eight destinations around the UK.

In November 2019 TUI Airways announced that, from 2022, it would switch their Orlando operations, from Sanford, to Melbourne, including daily flights to/from 8 British airports. This will bring their operations nearer to Port Canaveral where TUI Cruises will operate from in coming years. As a package holiday company this brings passengers closer to their cruises, although it has angered many TUI passengers who fly with the company to visit Orlando for Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.[8]

In July 2021, Canadian low-cost carrier Flair Airlines announced they would launch service between Sanford and five Canadian destinations beginning in winter 2021.

The airport is home to L3 Harris Airline Academy, which underwent several company changes and several name changes. The academy used to be known as L3 Commercial Training Solutions, Aerosim Flight Academy, and Delta Connection Academy, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. It provides ab initio flight training for prospective regional airline and international pilots. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office has a hangar and support facility for aviation elements of the agency's Special Operations Division.


The airport covers 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) and has four runways:[1]

  • Runway 9L/27R: 11,002 x 150 ft. (3,353 x 46 m), asphalt
  • Runway 9C/27C: 3,578 x 75 ft. (1,091 x 23 m), asphalt
  • Runway 9R/27L: 5,839 x 75 ft. (1,780 x 23 m), asphalt
  • Runway 18/36: 6,002 x 150 ft. (1,829 x 46 m), asphalt/concrete

The dominant runway is 9L/27R. This was built from the naval air station's original Runway 9/27, which was 8,000 ft (2,400 m) x 200 ft (61 m) with overruns of 2,145 ft (654 m) and 1,985 ft (605 m). A project to extended runway 9L/27R by 1,400 ft (430 m) to 11,000 ft (3,400 m) was completed on April 1, 2013. Parallel Runways 9C/27C and 9R/27L were built later, the former on a previous taxiway and the latter all-new, for small aircraft. The airport also has Runway 18/36, another Navy runway, for rare northerly fronts in the winter, but this 6000-ft runway is rarely used by airliners.

On December 31, 2019, there were 326 aircraft based at this airport: 221 single-engine, 53 multi-engine, 48 jet and 4 helicopters.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Allegiant Air Albany, Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Austin, Bangor, Belleville/St. Louis, Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charlotte–Concord, Chattanooga, Chicago/Rockford, Cincinnati, Clarksburg, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira, Evansville, Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Forks, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Gulfport/Biloxi, Harrisburg, Huntington, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Owensboro, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Portsmouth, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), San Antonio, San Juan, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, State College, Syracuse, Toledo, Tri-Cities (TN), Tulsa
Seasonal: Albuquerque, Bismarck, Cleveland, El Paso, Hagerstown, Key West,[9] McAllen, Moline/Quad Cities, Nashville, Rapid City,[10] Shreveport, Traverse City,[11] Wichita
Flair Airlines Seasonal: Halifax (begins November 1, 2021), Kitchener/Waterloo (begins February 7, 2022), Montréal–Trudeau (begins January 27, 2022), Ottawa (begins November 1, 2021), Toronto–Pearson (begins January 11, 2022)[12]
Surinam Airways Seasonal: Georgetown, Paramaribo
Swoop Seasonal: Edmonton (begins November 5, 2021), Hamilton (ON) (begins November 1, 2021), Toronto–Pearson (begins October 9, 2021)[13]
TUI Airways Seasonal: Birmingham (UK) (ends October 29, 2021),[14] Bristol (ends October 30, 2021),[14] Doncaster/Sheffield (ends October 28, 2021),[14] Glasgow (ends October 27, 2021),[14] London–Gatwick (ends November 29, 2021),[14] Manchester (UK) (ends November 30, 2021),[14] Newcastle upon Tyne (ends October 26, 2021)[14]


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from SFB (June 2020 – May 2021)[15]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Knoxville, Tennessee 43,000 Allegiant
2 Grand Rapids, Michigan 42,000 Allegiant
3 Cincinnati, Ohio 41,000 Allegiant
4 Allentown, Pennsylvania 40,000 Allegiant
5 Asheville, North Carolina 37,000 Allegiant
6 Indianapolis, Indiana 26,000 Allegiant
7 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 24,000 Allegiant
8 Flint, Michigan 21,000 Allegiant
9 Columbus, Ohio 17,000 Allegiant
10 Lexington, Kentucky 17,000 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

See source Wikidata query and sources.

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at SFB, 1995-2020[3]
Year Passengers
1995 48,186
1996 669,576
1997 1,044,496
1998 1,198,803
1999 939,962
2000 1,086,635
2001 1,222,391
2002 1,263,662
2003 1,253,862
2004 1,834,315
2005 1,649,237
2006 1,645,989
2007 1,780,495
2008 1,837,247
2009 1,702,412
2010 1,165,435
2011 1,577,307
2012 1,815,729
2013 2,032,680
2014 2,184,701
2015 2,480,122
2016 2,752,410
2017 2,922,446
2018 3,094,487
2019 3,291,112
2020 1,545,041

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • Numerous aircraft mishaps occurred during the World War II years, but detailed data are not readily available.
  • On March 29, 2007, Allegiant Air Flight 758, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft that took off from Pease International Airport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, experienced a hydraulic failure that prevented the nose landing gear from deploying. The plane made a safe landing at Orlando Sanford International Airport, with only one minor injury sustained in the aircraft evacuation.[16][17]
  • On July 10, 2007, a Cessna 310, originating from Daytona Beach International Airport, Florida, en route to Lakeland Linder International Airport, Florida, crashed into two homes in Sanford, Florida, killing five people: the pilot, his passenger, and three people inside the houses. The pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted an emergency landing at nearby Orlando Sanford International Airport. NASCAR said the pilot of the plane was Michael Klemm, a senior captain with NASCAR Aviation. His passenger was Dr. Bruce Kennedy, husband of International Speedway Corporation president Lesa France Kennedy, the daughter of the longtime head of NASCAR Bill France, Jr., who had died a month earlier in June 2007. They were the only two people on the plane, according to both NASCAR and the NTSB. Four people also were injured, three of whom were critically burned, authorities said. The NTSB factual report dated December 2007 indicates that the accident was caused by an electrical malfunction, including smoke in the cockpit, that occurred on the previous flight and that was not rectified prior to the accident flight, resulting in the subsequent fire. The accident pilot was informed about the known problem prior to flight but elected to fly the aircraft regardless.


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for SFB PDF, effective August 17, 2017.
  2. ^ "Orlando Sanford Airport, Florida". vymaps.com.
  3. ^ a b "Orlando Sanford International Airport - Annual Passenger Counts". Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Florida, Daytona Beach area. Members.tripod.com (March 15, 1944). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  5. ^ Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY (October 22, 2014). "Icelandair to switch airports in Orlando". USA TODAY.
  6. ^ "Interjet adds two US routes; one each to Orlando and Las Vegas". anna.aero. PPS Publications. April 29, 2016. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  7. ^ Liu, Jim (May 18, 2018). "Interjet Orlando service changes from June 2018". Routes Online. Informa PLC. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "TUI TO FLY HOLIDAYMAKERS TO 'ORLANDO' AIRPORT THAT'S 70 MILES AWAY FROM THE CITY". www.independent.co.uk/travel/. The Independent. November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  9. ^ Gilbertson, Dawn. "Allegiant Air aims for pandemic vacationers with flights to 3 new cities, including Jackson Hole and Portland". USA TODAY.
  10. ^ "Allegiant Announces Major Service Expansion With 34 New Nonstop Routes, Plus Nine Special Limited Routes For Sturgis Rally 2021 | Allegiant Travel Company". ir.allegiantair.com.
  11. ^ "No Direct Traverse City-Orlando Route This Winter". The Ticker | Traverse City News & Events.
  12. ^ Ltd, Flair Airlines (July 8, 2021). "Flair Airlines Continues Impressive Growth With Flights to the U.S, Bringing Ultra-Low Fares to Sun Destinations". GlobeNewswire News Room.
  13. ^ "Where We Fly". Swoop. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Flight Timetable | TUI Airways". www.tui.co.uk.
  15. ^ "Transtats". Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  16. ^ Jet With 147 Passengers On Board Makes Emergency Landing – Boston News Story – WCVB Boston Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Allegiant Jet Moved After Emergency Landing". WESH. May 30, 2012. Archived from the original on May 18, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Orlando Sanford International Airport at Wikimedia Commons