Photo: Tampa International Airport by James G. Howes
Janet Zink Vice President/Media and Government Relations for Tampa International Airport spoke to the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners on Jan. 24th, 2017. She provided an update on airport operations and expansion.
Zink stated that the airport is expected to hit 19.3 million passengers in 2017, which would match their record number of passengers in 2007. “That makes us one of the county’s large hub airports,” she explained. A large hub airport is defined as an airport that carries 1% of the flying public. There are 30 large hub airports in the country and Tampa is number 29. Florida is the only state in the country with 4 large hub airports. California, New York and Texas each have two large hub airports. Currently Tampa International Airport has 18 international and 68 domestic routes.
Zink emphasized that the airport’s goal is to grow international service. Since 2010 there has been a 113% increase in international passengers since they have been increasing their number of international routes. One nonstop international daily flight has a $154 million economic impact on the region and creates 1200 jobs.
New flights to Iceland begin in September and next month they start flights to San Francisco. Also in February flights to Boston start on two different airlines, which means fares will be more reasonable. In April there will be new flights to Canada and to New York in June.
Iceland provides easy access to Europe and they have a one week “stop-over” program to encourage travels to spend time in Iceland before heading to Europe.
Tampa International is targeting flights to Amsterdam, Manchester and Dublin, which their air service development team is currently working on, Zink explained. For Latin America, they are targeting Bogota, Mexico City and Lima, Peru. Domestically they are targeting San Diego, Portland and Salt Lake City.
Zink was thankful for Amazon warehouses that recently opened in the area, which she attributes to Tampa International’s 30% increase in cargo volume in the last year.
Operating Revenues have been increasing steadily. For FY 2015 the OR was $200 million, for FY 2016 it was $212 million and $215 million is budgeted for FY 2017. Zink mentioned that Operating Revenues do not include tax payer dollars.
She was proud to point out that Tampa International is the only large hub airport to have double A ratings from 4 different bond rating agencies, which helps for their $1 billion construction project.
Tampa International airport is predicting that they will hit 30 million passengers by 2031, which provided the impetus for the $1 billion expansion project. The project Zink explained consists largely of 3 projects: a 2.6 million square foot rental car center, a people mover that connects the rental car center to the economy parking garage and then to the main terminal and lastly an expansion of the main terminal.
Later in the BOCC meeting on Jan. 24th, Valerie Pianta Hernando County Manager of Economic Development stated, “Without them (Tampa International Airport) we could not do what we do.”