Make us your home page

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano up for another raise

Airport CEO Joe Lopano’s salary would be $330,750 starting Oct. 1.

Airport CEO Joe Lopano’s salary would be $330,750 starting Oct. 1.

TAMPA — Another day, another raise for Joe Lopano.

The chief executive officer of Tampa International Airport is poised to get his third raise in 20 months at today's meeting of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority governing board.

The chairman of the board, Robert Watkins, proposed the 5 percent merit raise for Lopano. If the board approves, the CEO's base salary would become $330,750 starting Oct. 1.

"I personally think he's done a fantastic job," Watkins said, "and performed beyond all expectations."

Lopano was hired in January 2011. In January 2012, the board voted to give him a $50,000 raise. Then in October 2012, the board voted for a 5 percent, or $15,000, merit raise. Lopano also had three contract extensions to go with the two raises during that 20-month span. The last extension was especially contentious — and potentially lucrative.

In May, the board voted 4-1 to extend Lopano's contract to 2018 and set up a $500,000 bonus for him to collect if he continues to run the airport for the next five years.

The only board member to vote no was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who vociferously opposed giving Lopano a bonus — it was the board's version of a noncompete clause — and extending a contract that already ran to 2016.

The board's discussion and vote of this latest raise should go much more smoothly. In preparation for Lopano's annual performance review today, all five board members have already given him glowing written evaluations — even the mayor, who gave Lopano seven of the top "outstanding" grades and eight lesser "exceptional" marks.

Lopano received an average score of 4.85, with 5 being the highest-possible score. Watkins, who gave Lopano a perfect score, said it would be hard to argue that Lopano hasn't accomplished every task he was hired to tackle when he started work in 2011.

The new CEO's No. 1 mandate was to bring international flights back to Tampa. The airport has since added direct flights to Cuba and Switzerland. But this summer, Lopano landed the biggest deal of his tenure: Copa Airlines announced it would start nonstop flights to Panama City, Panama, in December, giving Tampa Bay its first-ever route to a major Latin-American hub.

Lopano also has mapped out the future of the airport. In May, he unveiled a $2.5 billion vision for Tampa International. The new master plan calls for the airport to build an off-site car rental facility and tram by 2017, freeing the main terminal for expansion sometime after 2020. That rental facility will allow the airport to develop new businesses on-site, too.

Lopano has also paid down the airport's debt, improved its profitability and, in 2012, brought back raises for staffers. In 2008, the airport stopped giving raises during the economic downturn, but under Lopano's plan employees are now eligible for performance-based raises up to 5 percent. That's why the chairman said he proposed this 5 percent, $15,750 raise for Lopano.

"I certainly don't think it's too much," Watkins said, "and it's in line" with other airport raises.

Airport staff did not respond to a request for comment from Lopano. Buckhorn declined to comment Wednesday.

"I think he's doing a stellar job in every case," the chairman said of Lopano. "How could anyone not applaud him and his team's efforts for Copa? That's a very important thing for the Tampa Bay area and the airport. It opens us up to international flights in a really big way.

"He's put together a great team and they've put together a great marking effort. He's made efforts to reach out to our community partners in a big way. We wouldn't have Copa without that kind of cooperation."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, or @jthalji on Twitter.

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano up for another raise 09/04/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs and Bucks: HBO's Hard Knocks series boosts local businesses


    TAMPA — Men can enjoy yoga, including the most athletic ones. That is the message that the co-founder of Camp Tampa, a fitness studio located in South Tampa, wants to push after a few Tampa Bay Buccaneers players were shown practicing on HBO's television series Hard Knocks.

    Longtime hairstylist, Katie Ellwood styles Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander's hair last week at New Identities Hair Studio of Tampa Palms. The camera crew follows Kwon Alexander and other Bucs players during the team's training camp for the HBO show "Hard Knocks," a documentary television series about the ups and downs of an NFL training camp. [Courtesy of New Identities Hair Studio]
  2. Old Time Pottery adds store in Largo


    LARGO — A home decor and furniture store opened Thursday at 1111 Missouri Ave. N, according to a news release from the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. This is Old Time Pottery's fourth location in the Tampa Bay area, joining stores in Kenneth City, New Port Richey and Brandon. The company, which has 41 …

  3. Tampa Bay has two new million-dollar ZIP Code areas — is yours one of them?

    Real Estate

    You might not be a millionaire, but chances are greater now that you live in a million-dollar Tampa Bay neighborhood.

    Tampa's ZIP Code 33606 is among the six bay area ZIPs in which at  least 10 percent of the homes are worth $1 million or more. This  Davis Islands home sold in January for $6.275 million. {Courtesy of Smith & Associates]
  4. Powerball jackpot climbs to $510 million, 8th largest


    DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $510 million, making it one of the largest in U.S. history.

    A store clerk pulls a Powerball ticket from the printer for a customer, Tuesday, in Hialeah, Fla. The Powerball jackpot has has rolled 18 times, since the June 14, drawing, resulting in an estimated $510 million for Wednesday night's drawing. [Associated Press]
  5. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation


    TALLAHASSEE — Visitation to all Florida state prisons has been canceled this weekend after evidence surfaced that inmates are planning possible uprisings to coincide with Saturday's march for prisoners' human rights in Washington, D.C.