Tampa International Airport

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Tampa International Airport
Aerial view of the airport in 2004
WMO: 72211
Airport type Public
Owner Hillsborough County
Operator Hillsborough County Aviation Authority
Serves Tampa Bay Area
Hub for Silver Airways
Elevation AMSL 26 ft / 8 m
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Website www.TampaAirport.com
TPA is located in Florida
TPA is located in USA
Location of airport in Florida / United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 6,999 2,133 Asphalt/Concrete
19L/1R 8,300 2,530 Asphalt/Concrete
19R/1L 11,002 3,353 Concrete
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Total passengers 18,815,425
Aircraft operations 189,865
Based aircraft 90

Tampa International Airport (IATA: TPAICAO: KTPAFAA LID: TPA) is a public airport six miles west of Downtown Tampa, in Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. This airport is publicly owned by Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA).[1] It has been praised for its architecture and Landside/Airside design of a central terminal ("landside") connected by people movers to satellite air terminals and gates ("airsides"), a pioneering concept when designed in the late 1960s. The airport was called Drew Field Municipal Airport until 1952.[2]

The airport is served by over twenty major air carrier airlines, four regional airlines, and two air cargo carriers. Three of the regional airlines operate under the banner of mainline air carriers, while a fourth, Silver Airways, is independent and utilizes Tampa International Airport as a hub for its operations. Southwest Airlines operates a focus city in TPA and carries the airport's largest share of passengers, operating up to 84 daily flights.[3]

The airport presently serves 85 non-stop destinations throughout North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Tampa International is also one of only two airports in the United States to host regularly scheduled charters to four Cuban cities: Camagüey, Havana, Holguín and Santa Clara. The airport handled 18,931,922 passengers in 2016, making it the 29th busiest airport by passenger movements in North America.[4] In 2016, it was named one of the top 3 airports in the country by Condé Nast. [5]


Tampa Bay is the birthplace of commercial airline service, when pioneer aviator Tony Jannus flew the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line on January 1, 1914, from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Tampa using a Benoist Flying Boat – the first scheduled commercial airline flight in the world using a heavier-than-air airplane.[6]

Drew Field

World War II postcard from Drew Army Airfield
Drew Field in 1948
see: Drew Army Airfield for the World War II use of the airport

In 1928 the city completed the 160-acre (65 ha) Drew Field six miles (10 km) west of Downtown Tampa. The more popular Peter O. Knight Airport was opened on Davis Islands near Downtown Tampa in 1935, where both Eastern and National Airlines operated until 1946.

The United States Army Air Corps began negotiating for the use Drew Field in 1939 during the buildup of military forces prior to World War II. In 1940, the City of Tampa leased Drew Field to the U.S. Government for 25 years, or until the end of the "National emergency." During the war, the United States Army Air Forces expanded and modernized the airport. The airfield was used by Third Air Force and renamed it Drew Army Airfield. Third Air Force used it as a training center by 120,000 combat air crews, primarily in bomber aircraft for the European and Pacific theaters, and also flew locally based antisubmarine patrols from the airfield until that mission was fully taken over by Naval Aviation assets of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. There was one mishap in 1943 that killed five fliers.[7] Despite this, Drew Field set a safety record for the Third Air Force in 1945 after 100,000 flying hours had been completed over a period of 10 months without a fatal incident. The aircraft operated included the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Douglas C-47 Skytrain, North American AT-6, North American B-25 Mitchell, and others.[8]

After World War II, the Army Air Forces vacated the facility and Drew Field was returned to the City of Tampa. The Peter O. Knight Airport and Drew Field reversed roles as the main Tampa airport because Drew Field was greatly expanded by the United States Army Air Forces during the war years. Airlines (Eastern Air Lines and National Airlines) moved to Drew Field from Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Island, which was too small to handle the Douglas DC-4, DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation prop-liners then coming on line in the mid-1940s. During this period, the airlines were housed in the former Drew AAF Base Operations building.[9]

Tampa International Airport

Trans Canada Airlines international flights began in 1950 and Drew Field was renamed Tampa International Airport. The airport's second terminal opened in 1952 near the intersection of Columbus Drive and West Shore Blvd.

The April 1957 OAG shows 30 departures a day on Eastern Air Lines: nonstops to Chicago-Midway, Detroit (Willow Run), Cleveland, New York Idlewild (now JFK), Boston, seven nonstops to Atlanta and 18 within Florida. National Airlines had 26 departures, including seven nonstops beyond Florida to Houston Hobby, Havana, Washington National, New York/Idlewild and three to New Orleans. Trans-Eastern had 12 departures and Mackey had two DC-3s, none nonstop beyond Florida. Trans-Canada had thirteen nonstops a week to Toronto or Montreal.

The 1952 terminal, built for three airlines, was swamped after the Civil Aeronautics Board granted Capital, Delta, Northeast, Northwest and Trans World Airlines authority to Tampa in the late 1950s. An annex was built east of the terminal for the new carriers.

Turbine-powered flights began in 1959 on Eastern Air Lines' L-188 Electra; in 1960 National, Eastern and Delta Air Lines began jet flights with the Douglas DC-8 (Delta was first, with a Chicago nonstop in May or June). National DC-8 nonstops to Los Angeles and weekly Pan American jets to Mexico City (MIA-TPA-MID-MEX) started in 1961.

The 1952 terminal was congested as larger jets replaced piston airliners and it was again expanded.

The 1971 Terminal

During the early 1960s, the aviation authority began planning a replacement terminal in an undeveloped site at the airport. Airport leaders chose the Landside/Airside design in 1965 after a study.

Construction on the new terminal designed by Reynolds, Smith & Hills began in 1968 between the airport's parallel jet-capable runways.[10] Prior to its opening on April 15, 1971, 60,000 people toured the new facility during a two-day open house. National Airlines Flight 36 from Los Angeles was the first to arrive at the terminal; after touching down at 05:26 A.M., the jet taxied to Airside E.

The people mover system (Airside E, right)

The airport's people mover system was the first such system in the world, with the original eight C-100 trains built by Westinghouse. The graphics and signage system designed by Jane Davis Doggett used red for one group of airlines and blue for another. The red/blue color scheme began on the highway outside the airport and helped guide drivers to the proper dropoff areas for each airline, then continued to guide passengers through the airport itself and ultimately to their gate.[11] The Tampa Airport was the first airport to use this sort of color-coded wayfinding signage system which was safer for drivers and required many fewer signs than highway engineers had originally budgeted for.[12]

On July 15, 1972, the 227-foot (69 m) tall Air Traffic Control Tower opened, the tallest in the United States at the time. The Host/Marriott Airport Hotel and its revolving rooftop restaurant opened in December 1973, with triple-paned windows and sound-proof guest rooms.

Northwest Airlines and National Airlines brought the Jumbo Jet to the airport late in 1971 with the introduction of the Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10. This was followed by the L-1011 Lockheed Tristar a year later by Eastern Air Lines. National Airlines began trans Atlantic DC-10 service to Amsterdam and Paris in 1977. In 1991 Airside B closed, following the demise of Eastern Airlines.

During the following decades, the airport was expanded to handle more traffic and additional airlines. In 1996, Airsides C and D were remodeled. The interiors of both satellites were refurbished and the original Westinghouse C-100 shuttles were replaced with Bombardier Innovia APM 100 trains. During this time, all the airlines from both facilities were housed in Airside E. Upon completion of the renovations, the airlines returned to their original locations, and Airside E was closed for good. The Landside Terminal was also remodeled numerous times during the 1980s and 1990s.

Both Delta Air Lines and US Airways opened maintenance bases at the airport. Both bases closed following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States utilizing hijacked US flagged commercial airliners and the commercial airline struggles that ensued. Alabama-based Pemco World Air Services now occupies the former US Airways hangar performing MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) services for the Spirit Airlines and jetBlue A320 fleet.[13] On April 1, 2010 a press release announced that a lease agreement was reached to allow Pemco to lease the second hangar formerly used by Delta Air Lines, where they perform Boeing 737 cargo conversions and modifications.[14]


Landside Terminal – Baggage Claim (2011)
Landside Terminal – Ticketing Area (2006)
Airside A
Airside C
Airside C Interior (2008)
Airside E Interior (2008)
Airside F Interior (2008)

Tampa International Airport's Landside/Airside terminal was the first of its type in the world.[15] There is a central Landside Terminal where baggage and ticketing functions take place. The Landside Terminal is surrounded by four Airside satellites where airliner embarkment and disembarkment occur. Each Airside is connected to the Landside Terminal via an elevated automated people mover (APM) system which employs 16 Bombardier Innovia APM 100 Shuttle Cars. TPA was the first airport in the world to deploy a fully automated, driver-free people mover system and is host to Bombardier Transportation's longest-running APM system. The terminal was originally designed to limit the walking distance between the automobile and airliner to 700 feet (210 m); today, it has increased to about 1,000 feet (300 m), due mostly in part to the larger, more modern airside buildings which have replaced the original, smaller structures.

In contrast to a similar landside/airside terminal design used at Orlando International Airport, passengers must first access the APM system before going through the security checkpoints, as the security checkpoints are located in the airsides.


Today, there are four active airsides (A, C, E and F) with 62 gates. All were constructed after 1985 and all airsides include a food court and gift shop, and outdoor smoking patios. Airsides E and F contain duty-free shops in addition to the regular gift shops to serve passengers arriving or departing on international flights.[16][17] As of 2011, the security screening area in each airside is equipped with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) walk-thru detection machines, made by L3 Communications, whose devices use millimeter wave technology and not backscatter radiation. A brief description of each airside and the airlines they occupy are listed below, including the major cities/hubs that each airline serves from TPA.

Airside A
Airside C
  • Includes gates 30–45.
  • It was the last airside to be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up; it was designed by architect Alberto Alfonso and reopened to passengers on April 19, 2005.
  • Designed by HNTB and Alfonso Architects.[19]
Airside E
  • Includes gates 62–75.
  • It was the first airside to be demolished and rebuilt.
  • The current fourteen-gate facility was designed for Delta Air Lines and was dedicated and opened to passengers on October 15, 2002.
  • The facility includes one airline lounge: the Delta Air Lines "Sky Club".
  • Designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.[20]
Airside F
  • Includes gates 76–90
  • It was opened on November 4, 1987 and was designed for international flights.
  • The facility includes two airline lounges: the American Airlines Admirals Club and the International Club which is used by British Airways passengers.
  • The customs/immigration center is located on level 1.
  • Designed by Design Arts Group, Inc. and Rowe Holmes Hammer Russell Architects Inc.[21]

Original airsides

The original TPA airsides were designed in the mid-1960s as four identical facilities. The concept was later scrapped for unknown reasons and the facilities were eventually built around the requirements of their then primary tenant airlines. Thus creating the four dissimilar facilities that stood from their opening in 1971 to 2000. Each airside building was three stories tall and included a minimum of ten gates, a cocktail lounge, snack bar, and gift shop. Each airside was maintained by the airline for which it was built until 1999. All of the facilities (except Airside B) were renovated in the early/mid-1990s but received no further modifications during their life span. All 4 of the original airside buildings have been demolished and either re-built or the space re-used as noted below.

Below is a brief description of the four original airsides and the airlines that occupied them throughout the years. The bolded airlines indicate the primary (anchor) tenants for each facility.

Airside B – former Gates 19–30 (1971–1991)
  • Airside B was a twelve-gate facility that was designed by Eastern Air Lines and was the first original airside to shut down. The closure was the direct result of Eastern's cessation of operations in 1991. There were preliminary plans to renovate and revive the airside during the early 1990s, but efforts failed and planning for Airside A commenced immediately in 1992. The airside was not rebuilt due to a lack of overnight parking for aircraft, the facility's close proximity to one of TPA's runways, and the need for a separate automated baggage sorting facility for Airside A (since Airside A could not accommodate a built-in facility due to its pre-2001 construction), and was eventually demolished in 2003.

Today an overnight aircraft hardstand and an automated baggage sorting facility for Airside A sit on the former site. The site could also one day house an intermodal center that would allow passengers to connect to various mass transit options, including Tampa's proposed light rail system.

Airside C – Gates 31–41
  • Airside C was an eleven-gate facility designed by Delta Air Lines. The facility originally housed a customs/immigration center for arriving Air Canada and Pan Am international flights. The center was closed in 1987 and a Delta Crown Room (now known as a Delta Sky Club) was added. The airside was renovated (and its shuttles replaced) in 1996 but never received any further modification. By the late 1990s, Delta's presence in Airside C was dramatically increasing, and so was the congestion and lack of gate space. The airline soon requested HCAA to build a new facility for them. Airside E was deemed inactive by 1997 and its future quickly went up in the air. In 1998, it was decided that Airside E be demolished and rebuilt for Delta. After a brief halt in construction due to the 9/11 attacks, the new Airside E opened in 2002 and Delta immediately moved in. After much debate by the HCAA about whether to demolish or renovate the aging facility, Airside C was then slated for demolition and replacement in 2003.
Airside D – former Gates 46–55 (1971–2005)
  • Airside D was the last of the original airsides to close. The facility was designed by Northwest Airlines and was originally without some jet-ways until government airline regulation ended in 1978. The airside was renovated in 1996 (and its original shuttles were replaced). Northwest moved to Airside A in 1999 and United moved to the rebuilt Airside E in 2002. Airside D ceased operations in May 2005 after AirTran and JetBlue relocated to Southwest's former gates at Airside A. Demolition began in January 2007, and was completed in May 2007. The site of the demolished airside is currently used as a hard-stand for aircraft parking, but will eventually be used for the Control Tower and Ground Radar relocation in preparation for the new North Terminal facility, as well as a replacement airside, scheduled to open by 2020.[22]
Airside E – Gates 61–70
  • The original Airside E was designed by National Airlines and boasted a slightly different layout from the other airsides. Its boarding gates were on the third level (as opposed to the second level in the other airsides). This was due to the fact that the facility was designed specifically for the DC-10. The first level was open to allow tugs to drive right through. This was due to the airsides close proximity to the taxiway. Airside E housed National until its demise and takeover by Pan Am. Pan Am, in turn, occupied the facility until its own demise. Thereafter, the facility was renovated (in 1991) and Continental became its final major tenant. The facility was closed in 1995 after Continental's new terminal (Airside A) opened. The airside was demolished in 2000 and replaced by its current facility.

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
Air Canada Seasonal: Halifax, Ottawa
Air Canada Rouge Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Washington–National
Charter: Havana, Holguín, Santa Clara
American Eagle Seasonal: Miami, Washington–National
Bahamasair Nassau (resumes June 23, 2017) [23]
British Airways London–Gatwick
Cayman Airways Grand Cayman
Copa Airlines Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City (resumes December 21, 2017)[24]
Seasonal: Cancún
Delta Connection Raleigh/Durham
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Las Vegas, Philadelphia
Seasonal: St. Louis, Trenton
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík (begins September 7, 2017)[25]
JetBlue Airways Boston, Hartford, New York–JFK, Newark, San Juan, Washington–National, White Plains
Charter: Havana, Santa Clara
operated by Lufthansa CityLine
Silver Airways Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Marsh Harbour (BA), Nassau, Pensacola, Tallahassee, West Palm Beach
Southwest Airlines Albany (NY), Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Chicago–Midway, Columbus (OH), Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Havana, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Long Island/Islip, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia (begins June 4, 2017),[26] Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Juan, Washington–National
Seasonal: Dayton (ends June 3, 2017),[27] Flint, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Norfolk, Rochester (NY)
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental
Seasonal: Akron/Canton, Boston, Cleveland, Latrobe/Pittsburgh, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Swift Air Charter: Camagüey, Havana, Santa Clara
Seasonal Charter: Cancún (begins May 12, 2017),[28] Punta Cana
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
United Express Seasonal: Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Ottawa, St. John's


Airlines Destinations
Amazon Prime Air
operated by ABX Air
Baltimore, Cincinnati
Amazon Prime Air
operated by Atlas Air
FedEx Express Atlanta, Austin, Chicago–O'Hare, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, Newark, Raleigh/Durham, Tallahassee


Delta Air Lines operations at Airside E.

Carrier shares

Carrier shares for Jan 2016 - Dec 2016[29]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing) and share

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from TPA (January 2016 – December 2016)[30]
Rank City Passengers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 1,075,020
2 Charlotte, North Carolina 413,860
3 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 369,920
4 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 340,730
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 335,440
6 Newark, New Jersey 319,510
7 Detroit, Michigan 317,650
8 Baltimore, Maryland 309,640
9 New York–JFK, New York 300,200
10 Washington–National, D.C. 274,700

Top international destinations

Busiest international routes (January 2016 – December 2016) [31]
Rank Airport Passengers
1 Toronto 269,017
2 London 157,369
3 Frankfurt 114,487
4 Zürich 52,727
5 Havana 51,492
6 Grand Cayman 41,335
7 Panama City 39,981

TPA Airport today

The airport control tower as seen from the parking garage.

Today, Tampa International Airport handles about 16.6 million passengers per year,[32] and improvements currently in progress will increase capacity to 34 million passengers a year. The airport's car rental market is in the top five among all U.S. Airports. And the facility continues to receive consistent top-ranking reviews from numerous publications. In 2007 and 2008, Zagat Survey ranked TPA the "Best Overall U.S. Airport," while placing it second best overall in 2009 and 2010. In 2008 Condé Nast Traveler recognized TPA as the second-best airport in the world, just two-tenths of a point behind the first-place winner. JD Power and Associates have also given TPA Airport consistently high customer satisfaction ratings over the years. In November 2011, CNN ranked TPA sixth among ten of the world's most loved airports, being the only one on the list from the US.[33] Presently, the largest passenger aircraft serving TPA on a scheduled basis is the Boeing 777.

At this time, a new runway is being planned (17–35) to increase capacity in fair-weather conditions. In addition, a second Landside Airside Terminal will be built to the north of the current facility, allowing the airport to serve over 50-million passengers a year by 2025. Construction of this facility was originally slated to begin in 2010, with completion set to October 2015. However, the St. Petersburg Times reported on November 7, 2008 that the airport authority is no longer pursuing the original planned dates due to the current state of the US and global economies. The current struggle of the airline industry, including the recent merger by Delta and Northwest, has forced passenger enplanements to level off, and slowly decline at the airport. Additionally, with more possible airline mergers on the way, TPA Airport may not require drastic expansion for another five to six years. The revised start date of construction of the north terminal is now estimated at around 2015. According to the Tampa Tribune, passenger levels dropped by 14% in January 2009.[34]

The Marriott located adjacent of the parking garage.

Phase I of the economy parking garage was completed in November 2005.[35] Phase II of the economy garage opened ahead of schedule in November 2005, bringing a total of 5,600 parking spaces.[36]

Tampa International Airport covers an area of 3,300 acres (1,300 ha) at an elevation of 26 feet (8 m) above mean sea level. It has three runways: 10/28 is 6,999 by 150 feet (2,133 x 46 m) with an asphalt/concrete surface; 19L/1R is 8,300 by 150 feet (2,530 x 46 m) with an asphalt/concrete surface; 19R/1L is 11,002 by 150 feet (3,353 x 46 m) with a concrete surface.[1] On January 13, 2011 the runway designations changed due to a shift in the magnetic headings. 9/27 became 10/28, 18R/36L became 1L/19R, 18L/36R became 1R/19L.[37]

For the 12-month period ending May 30, 2008, the airport had 279,183 aircraft operations, an average of 764 per day: 85% scheduled commercial, 14% general aviation and <1% military. At that time there were 90 aircraft based at this airport: 66% jet, 19% single-engine, 3% multi-engine and 12% helicopter.[1]

In January 2011, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) announced that Tampa International Airport has been designated an official "entry/exit" point for travels to and from Cuba, allowing for Cuban-Americans to travel directly from Tampa to Cuba on chartered flights. Castor expects the TPA administration to recruit charter operators to establish service to Cuba over coming months as final regulatory clearance is granted.[38] On March 7, 2011, federal officials gave TPA the green light to begin charter flights to Cuba.[39]

Airport amenities

Airport conveniences that are free of charge include passenger paging, wireless Internet access, cell phone waiting lot with flight information, shuttle service from the economy garage, real-time flight information and travelers aid services. Other services include eateries located before passenger checkpoints, touch screen information kiosks, information about local events and outdoor smoking areas. In June 2012, the airport debuted several distinctly-Tampa restaurants and bars in both the landside terminal and the airsides. Among these eateries now represented at the airport are the iconic Ybor City Columbia Restaurant, downtown's Mise en Place's First Flight wine bar, and Cigar City Brewing's brewpub, which features an on-site produced pale ale named after Tampa aviation pioneer Tony Jannus.[40]

The logo represents the blue waters of Tampa Bay with a jetliner flying into a downtown Tampa sunset. It is known as the "Spirit of Flight". The jetliner was modeled after those once used for supersonic transport—at the time the logo was created in the 1970s, it was during an era when it was thought that supersonic aircraft would replace conventional jets as a mode of air travel.

The color-coding system

Since its opening on April 15, 1971, Tampa International Airport has used a special color-coding system throughout the terminal complex. The Baggage Claim Areas and Ticket Counters are color-coded Blue and Red. Airlines are assigned a color depending on their location within the Landside Terminal Building. The airlines found in the south side of the terminal are color-coded blue. The carriers located in the north side are color-coded red. The codes were also assigned names based on aviation and aerospace pioneers in order to assist color-blind patrons. The Blue side names are Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. The Red side names are Igor Sikorsky and Chuck Yeager. The Long Term Parking Garage also uses the special color-coding system. The four elevator cores have names and colors to make it easier for customers to remember where they've parked. Wright Brothers – Orange, Tony Jannus – Purple, Robert Goddard – Green and Charles Lindbergh – Brown. The Economy Parking Garage (EPG) is also split into two sections Purple and Gold. The newest phase, opened in time for the 2008 holiday season, will be Green and Orange. The EPG cores have no names at the present.

The Landside Terminal

The Landside Terminal was designed with convenience in mind. Express elevators and escalators keep passenger traffic moving smoothly, with few bottlenecks.

Level 1 (Baggage Claim) contains all inbound baggage facilities and baggage belts. The Blue Rental Car facility was relocated from its original Bag Claim location, to a consolidated facility beneath the long term parking garage in 2002. On November 15, 2006 a new Red Rental Car facility and garage opened adjacent to the Marriott.[41] In late 2008, renovation of the Baggage Claim began. Improvements include new baggage carousels and an inbound baggage screening system. This project was completed in 2010. In 2013, plans for a consolidated car rental center were announced, to be located on the south end of the property and connected to the terminal via a people mover.[22]

Level 2 (Ticketing) contains all ticketing/check-in functions. The level also contains a Charter desk reserved for flights that do not normally utilize TPA. The Ticketing area received a major renovation/expansion in 2002, and again in 2013.

Level 3 (Transfer Level) includes the airside shuttle stations and a shopping area known as the Airport Galleria. The airport Marriott Hotel is adjacent to the main terminal. Tampa's facilities are almost entirely housed in the public access main terminal. The facilities are mostly operated and run by airport retail companies – HMS Host, Stellar Partners, Bay Area Concessions an,d OSI Restaurant Partners.

  • Level 3 has undergone numerous major renovations. The main building was renovated in 1997. Shuttle bay expansions were constructed in 1986 for Airside F, 1994 for Airside A, 2001 for Airside E, and 2004 for Airside C. Future expansion plans include a relocation of the shuttle bay for Airside E by 2012, and, if the plans for a light rail system in the Tampa Bay area come to fruition, a light rail station could be constructed at the current Observation Deck location.

Service building

When the airport opened its doors in 1971, the Service Building went into operation as well. It housed the very first Communications Center, Police dispatch, employee cafeteria and maintenance locker rooms. The building is located across from the Red Baggage and Ticketing levels. It was primarily intended to house mechanical equipment such as the chiller plant and electrical transformers. Since then it has been expanded to two levels which was in the original design in 1968. Today it houses the original facilities with the addition of offices, rental car counters, badging and a receptionist desk. The Police department/Lost & Found has a lobby on level two (ticketing level) for walk-in lost & found requests.

Parking facilities

Currently, over 20,000[42] parking spaces are available at the airport. These spaces are split between the Short Term Parking Garage, the Long Term Parking Garage, and the Economy Parking Garage. As of right now, there is an ongoing expansion of the Economy Parking Garages which is in its second phase of construction. Also, the SunPass Plus program, first introduced at Orlando International Airport, is being implemented at TPA in stages. In early 2009, the Economy Parking Garages began using the program, in which customers can use their SunPass transponders to pay for parking. The program was expanded to the Short & Long-Term garages during the summer of 2009.[43] In addition, TIA also provides "self-serve" lanes in which customers can pay with their credit card instead of waiting in line for the cash lanes.

Short term parking garage

Levels 4–9 of the Landside Terminal Building house the short term parking garage. The garage was built with the airport complex in 1971 for added passenger convenience. Originally three levels, the garage was expanded in 1982 to six levels and contains 3,612 spaces.

Long term parking garage

Long term parking was originally a large lot sitting on what is today, the present-day long term parking garage. The garage was built in several phases from 1990 to 1997 after increased passenger traffic swamped the parking lot beyond capacity. A monorail (situated on Level Five of the garage) connects passengers to and from the short term parking garage (Level Five) and the Landside Terminal. The garage can hold a total of 7,635 spaces on six levels.

Economy parking garage

On November 1, 2005 phase I-A of the garage opened to the public and then on May 19, 2006 phase I-B opened. The garage is 8,043 spaces large and is divided into two color-coded sections – purple and gold (yellow). There is also a surface lot and overflow lot for use during the holidays. A free shuttle service takes passengers to the terminal drop-off twenty-four hours a day. Construction began in early 2008 on phase II which will be an exact copy of the first phase. Ultimately, it will be connected to the terminal via an automated people mover system.

Cell phone waiting lot

In an effort to decrease congestion within the Landside Terminal, particularly the baggage claim areas, a cell phone waiting lot was built alongside one of the remote overflow lots. It includes two large four panel flight status boards, showing real-time arrival information. This allows awaiting family members and friends of arriving passengers to wait in their vehicles until the passenger calls. Then the arriving passenger(s) can be picked up curbside at the Landside Terminal without creating curbside congestion problems. The lot has restrooms, WiFi, recorded CCTV surveillance and around-the-clock police patrols. Construction began in early 2008 to expand the cell phone waiting lot and was completed in November of that same year. The lot contains approximately 125 striped spaces.


The Universal Mobility Incorporated UM III monorail was installed in 1991 when the new long term parking garage was built and opened on December 16. It was the first of its kind in the world to include six driverless, electrically propelled cars that are completely computer controlled. The system was also the first to have active switches and it is monitored from the airport's communications center. There are four long term stations. The Monorail circles the long term parking garage and connects to the short term garage via an elevated bridge to stop at four additional stations. The Monorail is free to use and runs twenty-four hours a day except for a once-a-week maintenance shut-down in the overnight hours. Bombardier Transportation maintains the system by contract and the Aviation Authority owns it. Thales Rail Signalling Solutions won a contract in 2008 to completely upgrade the computer control system. The upgrade was implemented and tested for an entire year. The only visible change to passengers is the station graphics which show the position of each monorail car and display system status information.[44]

Public art program

The Airport's public art program was established in 1998 to enhance the traveling public's experience and to bring forth Florida's history and culture. A committee selects the art through a jury process.

Accidents and incidents

  • In 1943, five USAAF flight crew were killed when their Martin B-26 Marauder crashed on a flight from Avon Park Auxiliary Field to Eglin Field. The pilot attempted an emergency landing at Drew Field and overshot the runway. Two others on board the B-26 survived. This occurred one hour after a USAAF Douglas A-24 flying out of Drew Field crashed in Mullet Key near St. Petersburg, a bombing range at the time. The pilot ditched the airplane and lived, but the gunner bailed out and drowned.[7][45]
  • On November 6, 1986, an Eastern Air Lines Captain, George Baines, age 56, was flying in his private aircraft, a Piper PA-23, (registration N2185P) from his home to Tampa International to catch a flight. As he approached Tampa International's Rwy 36L (now Rwy 1L) with 1/16 mile visibility in fog, he declared a missed approach and executed a go-around to try again. On his second attempt, he touched down on a parallel taxiway and ultimately collided with a PanAm Boeing 727 that was on the taxiway. Captain Baines lost his life in the accident and was the only fatality. No other injuries were reported.[46]

Future plans

Plans are currently in the works for the construction of an intermodal facility located on airport premises. This would allow passengers to better connect to the number of proposed bus routes by both HART and PSTA.[47] In addition, a light rail system is being planned for the Tampa area, with a link to TPA Airport from Downtown Tampa and the WestShore district.[48]

In 2012, a master plan was released involving the airport facilities in the future. It outlined that instead of building a new terminal (north of the original), the terminal would be expanded to accommodate up to 34,000,000 passengers per year. This included the construction of Airside D. There will also be the addition of the international arrivals curbside and a new Security Checkpoint for airside C and D.[49]

Groundbreaking for Phase I occurred on November 4, 2014.[50] This first phase will construct new passenger facilities including the following:

A new 2.6 million square-foot Rental Car Facility

  • Rental car services are at or near capacity in their existing space, located adjacent to the Landside terminal, near the Long Term parking structure. Relocation will allow for the expansion of rental car services, with capacity for up to 5300 vehicles,[51] in a combined customer service/vehicle maintenance facility. The new facility will be located near the southern edge of airport property. Once rental car services are moved, the vacated space will be used to increase the capacity of the existing Long Term parking garage. Based on current estimates, the facility is scheduled for completion in late 2017.[52]

A new People Mover

  • This 1.4-mile rail link will connect the main terminal to the new Rental Car Facility, as the new facility will no longer be within walking distance of the Landside terminal. Along the route, the People Mover will also serve the existing Remote Economy Parking structure,[53] located between the terminal, and the future Rental Car Facility. Currently, access to Economy Parking is by van shuttles, accessible from two (formerly four, pre-construction) Ground Transportation stops on Level One, adjacent to both the Red and Blue Baggage Claim areas. In November 2014, it was confirmed that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, together with Sumitomo Corporation, would construct and supply technology for the new line, including 12 Crystal Mover trains and five years of system operations and maintenance.[citation needed]

In April 2017 Tampa International Airport released details of a $543 million second phase of its expansion project. The expansion includes express curbside drop-off for passengers without checked bags, widening the George Bean Parkway in and out of the airport, and development of the "Gateway" commercial development of 17 acres of airport property. Plans include a hotel, office buildings, a retail strip, and a gas station.[54][55]

See also



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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External links