PUNTA GORDA, FL. – About to celebrate their 35th year, the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit Florida International Air Show have cancelled the annual 2015 show planned to take place March 27-29 at the Punta Gorda Airport in Charlotte County, Fl.
Several factors impaired the organization’s ability to successfully host the 2015 Florida International Air Show including the lack of a sponsor this year, as well as the lack of support from Charlotte County government, said the air show organizers. They cited problems with event permit fees to the loss of in-kind services including Fire and the Charlotte Sheriff’s Office support, to the refusal of support from the Charlotte Harbor Visitor’s Bureau to which the Air Show organization has paid significant bed tax for 34 years. Other factors cited include rising fuel and smoke oil costs for the aircraft participants, increases in insurance coverage costs, and hotel rate increases and sequestration.
“It was such a difficult decision,” said Chairman Tyler Ezzi. “We are an all volunteer organization and since it’s inception in 1981, the Show has donated more than $3.2 million in proceeds to charities throughout southwest Florida. We volunteer because we are all passionate about giving back to our local community and we love the Show.” Ezzi added, “We love bringing this high quality, unique, family-friendly event to Punta Gorda and southwest Florida. It routinely attracts more than 50,000 attendees and showcases the field of aviation, our Country’s military air support, veterans’ service, and our local community.”
Named one of the “Ten Best Air Shows in the World” by USA Today, the organization hopes to resurrect the Air Show for 2016 and is looking for additional support outside of the immediate area. “Unfortunately, the Charlotte County businesses and community do not or can not help support the Florida International Air Show to the extent we need to stay in business. As a regional event drawing tens of thousands from Tampa to Marco, and benefiting charities throughout SWFL, the future livelihood and success of the Air Show in achieving our mission of giving back depends on casting a wider net for support as a southwest Florida event.”
The Florida International Air Show organization, in a statement Friday, thanked the hundreds of sponsors, businesses, and organizations, as well as the thousands of volunteers and the school districts, who have supported and participated in the Shows over the past 34 years.
(Video: AirShow footage from 1999 featuring the U.S. Air Force B-1 Bomber)