Make us your home page
Instagram

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, [email protected] 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

Loading...
  1. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]
  2. Google parent leads $1B Lyft investment, deepening Uber rift

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — Google's parent company is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber.

    This  file photo shows a smartphone displaying the Lyft app.Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber. [Associated Press, 2016]
  3. ReliaQuest opens storefront in mock city of JA Biztown

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based cybersecurity company, opened a "storefront" Wednesday at JA Biztown. The storefront is part of a mock city where students learn economic concepts and run businesses. About 20 real-life Tampa Bay companies sponsor storefronts that local students get to run for a day as part of a …

    ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based cybersecurity company, opened a "storefront" Wednesday at JA Biztown, a mock city where students learn to run businesses. | [MALENA CAROLLO, Times]
  4. Love My Dog owner promises to treat dogs like her own

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Lots of folks daydream about quitting their jobs to play with dogs, but shortly after moving to Florida 15 years ago, Natalie Conner actually did it.

    Some happy customers at the grand opening of Love My Dog Pet Resort’s third location in South Tampa on Oct. 14.
  5. Family brings edible cookie dough to Collins Produce stand

    Business

    VALRICO — Like anybody with a sweet tooth, Scott Laviano has been known to sneak behind his wife, Rose, while she bakes cookies and steal one of the dough balls from the baking sheet before it hits the oven.

    Scott, Rose and Scottie Laviano have opened Eddie Bull’s Cookie Dough inside Valrico’s Collins Produce.