Tampa airport takes off following pandemic; Celebrates its 50th anniversary
TAMPA, FL – Just a year ago, less than 1,500 passengers passed through Tampa International Airport. It was the lowest point of the longest sustained decline in air travel in airport history.
Global fear of COVID-19 was at its peak. The planes remained empty and the businesses at the airport were closed.
It’s been a bumpy year-long road to recovery, but officials at Tampa International Airport have said traveler confidence is rising and air travel is making a comeback.
More than 1.4 million passengers passed through TPA in March, an average of more than 50,000 passengers per day. April looks even stronger. During the Easter weekend, the airport handled an average of 60,000 passengers per day.
While the numbers are still below 80,000 per day during spring break in 2019, TPA is slightly ahead of the 2021 projections.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Joe Lopano, CEO of TPA. “We want to see the return of business, and we want to see it return safely. We still have a long way to go with the recovery from COVID-19, especially in other parts of the world, before we see a real sense of normalcy. But by continuing all our efforts to ensure the safety of air travel – as well as the widespread availability of vaccines – we are on the right track. “
Although planes remained stranded during the pandemic, activities at the airport were in full swing as the airport continued its historic three-phase $ 971 million expansion project approved by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority in 2013.
The ambitious master plan includes the construction of the SkyConnect automated people transfer system connecting the terminal to a state-of-the-art car rental center, the SkyCenter commercial office complex, a 16-door Airside D, a new garage at long term closed. gateway to the main terminal and the curbside express project with eight new express lanes connected directly to a vertical circulation building that transports guests between their cars and the third floor transfer level. This latest innovation allows departing passengers to skip the ticket counter level and arriving passengers to bypass the arrivals level.
The airport has also completed convenience and safety amenities, including the installation of E-gate contactless boarding pass scanners at four shuttle entrances, water bottle filling stations and airside terminal pet rescue areas.
TPA also became the first airport in the country to offer 5G mobile speeds on the country’s three major mobile carriers, just ahead of service as the host airport for Super Bowl LV in February. And it recently launched a new online parking reservation system and TPA to Go, an airport restaurant delivery service.
While TPA’s traffic projections and the timing of its international return routes remain uncertain, recent developments give hope.
Southwest Airlines recently announced it will bring back 2,700 flight attendants and 209 pilots for the summer travel season. United Airlines route to San Francisco resumes on June 3; Southwest Airlines launches route from Salt Lake City on June 12; Spirit Airlines will begin direct travel to Kansas City on June 9; and Silver Airways began nonstop services to Savannah, Georgia on April 2.
All of this comes as the airport celebrates its 50th anniversary.
With a price tag of $ 80 million, Tampa International Airport, featuring the first automated movers to transport passengers from the terminal to the aircraft gates, and state-of-the-art design, officially opened on April 15. 1971.
“This building has been the source of countless special memories,” said Lopano. “I am proud to say that after all these years we are better and stronger than ever, and all thanks to our amazing team and the support of our passengers and our community.”
“Tampa International Airport has been a crown jewel of our region for 50 years, and we look forward to building on this legacy for decades to come,” said Gary Harrod, chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. “We very much appreciate our role as stewards of this great Tampa Bay institution, and we are grateful to our team and the passengers who make it one of the best airports in America.”
Today, Tampa International Airport is the 27th busiest airport in the country, handling nearly 11 million passengers in 2019. Additionally, it was named # 4 of Travel & Leisure’s Top 10 Domestic Airports. and # 9 on VacationIdea’s Top 25 Airports in the United States
To learn more about TPA’s history, visit the interactive timeline.
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