Things are heating up in the skies above the greater Central Florida area, as some local airports fight over who gets to use the word “Orlando” in their name.
The vast majority of people who travel to Orlando are the most familiar with Orlando International Airport. With the 3-letter code of MCO, it has served hundreds of millions of passengers since 1975, when McCoy Airforce Base, the Strategic Air Command installation originally on the property, closed down after the Vietnam War (McCOy is how the airport got the code MCO; OIA kept the original letters as an homage to the original airfield). MCO sits roughly 19 miles from Walt Disney World, 16 miles from Universal Studios Florida and 13 miles from the Orange County Convention Center.
Then there is Sanford International Airport (SFB), in Sanford FL, which is about 44 miles from Walt Disney World, 35 miles from Universal Studios Florida and 38 miles from the Orange County Convention Center.
Finally, Melbourne International Airport (MLB), which is on the Atlantic coast in Melbourne FL, is approximately 73 miles from Walt Disney World, 68 miles from Universal Studios Florida and 70 miles from the Orange County Convention Center.
You’d think the three airports would be fairly easy to differentiate from one another, considering their distance from the various tourist and convention spots in the area, as well as their size (MCO is the 2nd busiest airport in Florida and the 14th busiest in the country in terms of total passenger traffic [thank-you, Wikipedia], whereas SFB and MLB are much, MUCH smaller). But right now MCO is in a months-long argument (which actually has been an on-again, off-again issue for 20+ years), bordering on a lawsuit, with Melbourne International Airport, because they (MLB) started using the name “Orlando” in their name for advertising purposes in recent years (hence “Orlando Melbourne International Airport” in the map above) and Orlando International Airport is brustling because of it.
As per Florida Today, MLB “…began using “Orlando” in marketing about six years ago on the backs of seats of US Airways and Delta Air Lines flights. The use of the word “Orlando” helped increase “click throughs” on the the Internet by more than 1,000 percent, the airport said.” Since the year 2000, the Melbourne-based airport has also, at time, referred to itself as “Beachside Orlando” in its international marketing (Orlando is about 60 miles from any beach, short of the shores of lakes).
MCO currently gets about 71.5% of all Central Florida air traffic passengers, MLB gets roughly 12.5% and SFB gets approximately 5.1% (the rest of the traffic goes to a handful of other small airports in the greater Central Florida region, none of which use “Orlando” in their name). So obviously, the much smaller MLB would love to get a piece of the passenger pie by using the the name of the better-known city in their advertising. It’s not without precedence; New Hampshire’s Manchester-Boston Regional Airport does it, even though it’s about 50 miles north of Boston, and Chicago Rockford International Airport is about 85 miles west of Chicago.
On one hand, MCO says using the term “Orlando” for an airport that’s not only not actually in Orlando, but is over 70 miles from the city, is misleading and confusing to passengers. On the other hand, some are suggesting MCO is acting like a “bully” for trying to monopolize the name “Orlando.”
The leaders of the two airports are having periodical meetings to try to work out a resolution in the future.
* Feature photo courtesy of https://twitter.com/MCO
Tip of the hat and THANK-YOU to Wandering Aramean for the inspiration for this post!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary