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Orlando Sandford International Airport

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Orlando Sanford International Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerSanford Airport Authority
OperatorAirports Worldwide, Inc.
ServesSanford and Orlando, Florida
LocationSanford, Florida
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL55 ft / 17 m
Coordinates28°4640N 081°1415W / 28.77778°N 81.23750°W / 28.77778; -81.23750Coordinates: 28°4640N 081°1415W / 28.77778°N 81.23750°W / 28.77778; -81.23750

FAA Airport Diagram
Location of airport within Florida / 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 (2018)
Aircraft operations322,589
Total Passengers3,094,487
Based aircraft350

Orlando Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB, ICAO: KSFB, FAA LID: SFB) is in Sanford, Florida, 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.

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.

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.[2] Sanford was also a small focus city for the travel marketer Direct Air until the company's demise in 2012.

Due to flight training, the airport is consistently in the top 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of total flight operations (takeoff and landings).


Naval Air Station Sanford

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

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.[3]


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

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 Summer 2019 Thomas Cook ceased all operations.

Icelandair moved to Orlando International Airport in 2015.[4]

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 2017 Thomson Airways (now TUI Airways) began operating routes to UK airports. This is the largest international airline at the airport serving 9 destinations around the UK.

In November 2019 TUI Airways announced that, from 2022, it would switch their Orlando operations, from its current base at 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 with Walt Disney World and Universal Resort Orlando. [1]

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.

In August 2017, there were 350 aircraft based at this airport: 223 single-engine, 58 multi-engine, 57 jet and 12 helicopter.

Airlines and destinations

Allegiant Air Albany, Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Austin, Bangor, Belleville/St. Louis, Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Concord (NC), 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, Ogdensburg, 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, Traverse City, Tri-Cities (TN), Tulsa
Seasonal: Albuquerque (begins June 4, 2020),[5] Bismarck, Cleveland, El Paso, Hagerstown, Laredo, McAllen, Moline/Quad Cities, Nashville, Shreveport, Wichita
Suriname Airways Seasonal: Georgetown, Paramaribo
TUI Airways[6] Seasonal: Birmingham (UK), Bristol, Doncaster/Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, LondonGatwick, Manchester (UK), Newcastle upon Tyne
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam



Top destinations
Busiest domestic routes from SFB
(September 2018 August 2019)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Allentown, Pennsylvania 76,000 Allegiant
2 Knoxville, Tennessee 67,000 Allegiant
3 Cincinnati, Ohio 61,000 Allegiant
4 Grand Rapids, Michigan 55,000 Allegiant
5 Asheville, North Carolina 51,000 Allegiant
6 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 45,000 Allegiant
7 Indianapolis, Indiana 37,000 Allegiant
8 Lexington, Kentucky 37,000 Allegiant
9 Flint, Michigan 37,000 Allegiant
10 Bangor, Maine 31,000 Allegiant
Annual traffic
Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at SFB, 1995-2018[2][2]
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

Accidents and incidents

  • 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.[8][9]
  • 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 FAA Airport Master Record for SFB (Form 5010 PDF), effective August 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Orlando Sanford International Airport - Annual Passenger Counts". Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  3. ^ Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Florida, Daytona Beach area. Members.tripod.com (1944-03-15). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  4. ^ Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY (22 October 2014). "Icelandair to switch airports in Orlando". USA TODAY.
  5. ^ "Allegiant Announces Largest Service Expansion In Company History With 3 New Cities And 44 Nonstop Routes". Allegiant Airlines.
  6. ^ "Flight Timetable". tui.co.uk.
  7. ^ "Transtats". Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  8. ^ Jet With 147 Passengers On Board Makes Emergency Landing Boston News Story WCVB Boston Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Allegiant Jet Moved After Emergency Landing". WESH. 30 May 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2015.

External links

Media related to Orlando Sanford International Airport at Wikimedia Commons

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