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Again, Tampa International is flying high

For the second year in a row, Tampa International Airport has been named one of the world's top five airports by users of a large Web site that caters to business travelers.

TIA is joined by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Dallas-Fort Worth International, Pittsburgh International and Singapore Changi.

"We're very happy to be a part of that list," said Louis Miller, executive director of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. "Especially since we don't have all that many international flights."

The competition is run by OAG Worldwide, which operates the Web site and publishes a magazine for business travelers. OAG also publishes the official worldwide airline schedule guide. The voters are subscribers to OAG print or electronic travel information who base their choices on their personal experiences.

TIA has long been rated one of the most user-friendly airports in the United States, but the OAG recognition is special, Miller said.

"We're in there with the big boys," he said. "Pittsburgh is a brand new airport. Dallas is one of the best. Singapore is one of the finest facilities in the world. All of their traffic is international, so everything is set up for international fliers. Pittsburgh is a hub for US Airways, Dallas is a hub for American (Airlines) and Delta (Air Lines). That's stiff competition."

Last year, Singapore edged Tampa and the three other finalists for the top spot when the voting was disclosed. Miller said he wouldn't be surprised to have that happen again when the top winner among the five finalists is announced May 14 in London.

Pamela Flores, a spokeswoman for OAG, said votes for the best airport and the best airlines are taken on the Internet through the OAG Web site.

"The votes are those of the traveling public, primarily business travelers, who are the most experienced and probably the most critical," Flores said.

In the airline category, contenders for airline of the year are British Airways, Continental Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

Nominees for the best airline based in North America are American, Air Canada, Continental, Midwest Express Airlines and United Airlines.

The airline with the best first class will come from among American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Singapore and United. Nominees for best business class are British Airways, Continental, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore. Best coach: Air Canada, Emirates, Midwest Express, Singapore and Virgin Atlantic.

Best frequent flier program: Air Canada, Continental, Qantas Airways, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and United. Best low-fare airline: easyJet, Go, JetBlue Airways, Ryanair and Southwest Airlines.