Monday, June 18, 2018
Business

Tampa International Airport plan to spend billions on upgrades moves forward

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport is one step closer to paying for the billions in new construction, repairs and improvements the airport is planning to undergo in the coming years.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority finance committee met Thursday and — after 4½ hours — unanimously recommended that the full board approve the 20-year strategic business plan and 2014 capital budget that will pay for all the upgrades set to start next year.

The finance committee is composed of the three businessmen on the aviation authority's five-member board: chairman Robert Watkins and new board members Martin Garcia and Gary Harrod. The next board meeting is Jan. 9, but it was not known when the full board will approve the financing plan.

The airport is planning to spend a total of $4.1 billion on upgrades in the coming decades: $1.6 billion in repairs and improvements and $2.5 billion toward master plan construction.

Thursday's meeting was about the plan to pay for the $1.6 billion in repairs, which will take place over 20 years; and the $1 billion first phase of the master plan, which calls for building a rental car facility south of the main terminal connected by a 1.3-mile automated people mover. The first phase is set to be built by 2017.

The airport plans to pay for the $1 billion first phase by raising $616 million in new bonds serviced by car rental and airplane ticket fees and asking for $272 million in state funding.

First phase construction is expected to create 8,000 jobs. Earlier this month the aviation authority awarded the contract to Austin Commercial, a Texas firm that pledged to hire Tampa Bay firms and residents.

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