TAMPA — Officials at Tampa International Airport aren't surprised TIA once again ranked high in the 2013 Airport Service Quality Awards compiled by the Airports Council International.
What did surprise them was that the airport actually improved its grades for quality and service while the interior of the main terminal underwent a major renovation.
Maintaining that level of service will become even more important now that Tampa International is about to undergo its biggest project in years: $1 billion in new construction and upgrades set to be finished by 2017.
"It's our intention to maintain that over the next four years as we continue to undergo significant construction," airport spokeswoman Janet Zink said.
Tampa International was ranked third among global airports serving 15 million to 25 million passengers. TIA, which handles about 17 million passengers a year, finished fifth in the 2012 rankings, but rose two spots in 2013 to finish behind first-ranked Gimpo International Airport in South Korea and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in China.
TIA also ranked the third-best airport in North America in 2013, finishing behind top-ranked Indianapolis International Airport and No. 2 Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.
TIA officials said customer satisfaction with airport security improved. They believe service scores benefited in 2013 from the addition of a Transportation Security Administration precheck line in each airside. That program allows frequent fliers to undergo background checks in advance.
"We get quarterly reports from (Airport Service Quality), and we analyze them really closely," Zink said. "We take significant steps to see how we can improve. It's a very conscientious effort, and it involves working with our airlines and working with TSA and sharing ASQ information with them, to say, 'Here's where we're falling down. How can we improve? How can we be better in this area?' "
Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jthalji on Twitter.