Fly in the ointment 

At one time Orlando International Airport planners predicted a 5.8 increase in passengers from 1997 to 1998. In October they realized the growth would be more like 2 percent. Ends up even that modest goal wasn't met. The airport handled almost 27.8 million passengers during 1998, or 1.6 percent more than it did in 1997.

The number of international passengers using Orlando's airport decreased, mostly due to Sanford Airport luring away foreign air-charter business. The trade journal World Airport Week in its Feb. 9 issue calls Sanford a "scrappy little airport" that has "forced the larger facility to lower its landing fees and include more passenger-friendly facilities in its $2 billion expansion."

"Sanford has done a good job of exploiting an opportunity," Egerton van den Berg, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, grudgingly told World Airport Week. Indeed. Sanford expects to handle 1.3 million international charter passengers in 1999, whereas Orlando anticipates just 600,000.

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