TAMPA — Tampa International Airport brought out the tulips last summer when Delta Air Lines announced new nonstop flights to Amsterdam. That turns out to have been a fitting touch, because tulips have a season of their own, and so will Tampa's flights to Amsterdam.
Executives initially said the flights would be year-round, starting next month. This week, airport officials said the flights will start on a seasonal schedule from May 23 through Oct. 26 of this year, then resume service in April 2020.
"The feedback I've received is that this isn't a reflection of Delta's confidence in our service, but is rather in response to sizable transatlantic competition in general," Tampa International director of research and air service development Kenneth Strickland said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday.
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Tampa officials still hope the service will become year-round at some point, airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps said.
In a statement, Delta didn't close the door on that possibility. Nor did it explain why its plans changed other than to say that it frequently tweaks its schedule for all kinds of reasons.
"While now planned to take a seasonal hiatus this winter, Delta is committed to our new Amsterdam nonstop service from Tampa International," the airline said in a statement released by spokesman Morgan Durrant.
"This new service will not only connect Tampa Bay-area customers to Amsterdam but to many additional onward destinations in conjunction with our partner KLM Royal Dutch Airlines," the airline said. "Delta routinely makes adjustments across our global network of more than 5,000 flights daily out of a variety of considerations. Our Tampa Bay customers will still have several easy, one-connection options to reach Europe via our Atlanta and New York-JFK hubs during the winter season."
As an incentive to land the Delta flights, the airport offered to waive its fees for the new service for two years. That's a standard offer that Tampa International Airport makes for new service no matter the airline.
That will still happen, Strickland said, though there will be fewer flights. The airport also had offered to reimburse Delta an estimated $356,154 for promoting the Amsterdam flights over two years. That money is pro-rated based on the number of flights. So with fewer flights, the reimbursements will be less, possibly more in the range of $207,000 if Delta ends up flying to Amsterdam for seven months of the year instead of 12.
Landing the flights to Amsterdam gave Tampa International, which has seen its international passenger count grow 126 percent since 2011, its fifth destination in Europe and one of its top priorities. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is among the busiest is Europe and is one of Delta's largest European hubs, with connections to destinations as far away as India and Asia via Delta partners KLM, Air France, Alitalia and Jet Airways.
Contact Richard Danielson at email@example.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times