Make us your home page

Tampa International Airport expansion plans rise to $4.1B

CEO Joe Lopano wants the airport to be far ahead of the curve.

CEO Joe Lopano wants the airport to be far ahead of the curve.

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport is poised to undergo its most radical changes and extensive construction since the main terminal opened in 1971.

A new $2.5 billion master plan will prepare the airport to handle more passengers, more flights and more traffic for the next two decades.

Airport officials Thursday unveiled how they will pay for that. But they also revealed another plan, and another price tag:

The airport also expects to spend an additional $1.6 billion maintaining and repairing existing airport facilities and infrastructure in the years to come.

All told, Tampa International projects it eventually will spend $4.1 billion in the coming decades to modernize, upgrade and maintain the airport.

"Our job is to make sure we're years head of the curve," said chief executive officer Joe Lopano, "and not kicking the can five to 10 years down the road to maintain the great airport we have."

Airport officials presented their new strategic business plan — the blueprint to pay for all this — to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority's governing board and the public during a meeting Thursday at the airport.

Damian Brooke, airport vice president of business planning and information technology, assured the board and audience that it can afford both plans.

"The authority is in excellent shape," Brooke said, "and we will still be in excellent financial shape after the completion of the master plan."

But officials also stressed that much of that $4.1 billion in spending is projected to occur over at least two decades. So far the airport has decided only to go through with the first phase of the master plan, which calls for nearly $1 billion in construction through 2017. The exact time line and spending figures for future airport maintenance projects were not revealed.

Brooke said that in building its business plan, the airport calculated alternate scenarios that could affect financial projections, such as a total loss of state funding and a "9/11" type event that could severely impact air travel.

The cost of the first phase is $943 million. It calls for a 2.3 million-square-foot consolidated rental car facility south of the main terminal. It will be connected to the airport by a 1.3-mile automated people mover.

By moving car rental facilities out of the main airport, officials hope to reduce traffic, extend the life of the airport's roads and create more space in the main terminal and parking garage. That also will coincide with expanding and remaking all of the airport's concession areas in the terminal and airsides.

The airport hopes it will get $272 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to pay for the first phase. But 65 percent of the cost will be financed: the airport plans to raise $616 million in new bonds. The new debt will be serviced by fees already tacked on to car rentals and plane tickets.

The airport collects the federally mandated passenger facility charge (or PFC) fee of $4.50, earmarked for airport construction. But the airport also charges a $2.50 consolidated facility charge (or CFC) for on-airport car rentals. The airport is set to double that to $5 in April.

Airport officials said the CFC fee will still be less than that charged by other airports, such as the $8 fee levied at Chicago O'Hare International.

As for the rest of the $2.5 billion master plan, Lopano said those decisions will be made years from now — and that the next phases of airport construction will be built only if the number of passengers and flights justifies it.

"We would not entertain those phases," he said, "unless we are very successful."

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

Tampa International Airport expansion plans rise to $4.1B 11/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Task now is for Water Street Tampa to build an identity


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  2. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena


    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  4. Rick Scott appoints longtime ally Jimmy Patronis as Florida CFO

    State Roundup
    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches


    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]