Tampa airport flies to more destinations now than before the pandemic

Air travel is recovering quickly in Tampa, despite the challenges from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Board of departures out of Tampa International Airport on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
Board of departures out of Tampa International Airport on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 7, 2021|Updated Oct. 7, 2021

Tampa International Airport has more flights to more destinations than it it did before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though airport officials say Tampa International is still recovering from the economic stressors of the pandemic, Tampa is bucking the trend that’s slowed efforts at many other airports across the country.

Frontier Airlines announced last week it was adding five routes out of Tampa which include two new destinations for the airport: Green Bay, Wisc., and Bloomington, Ill. Tampa added 17 new permanent connections since the pandemic started, said Christopher Minner, the airport’s executive vice president of marketing and communications.

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The number of passengers who passed through Tampa terminals dipped from the 1.7 million passengers recorded in July to about 1.5 million in August, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority reported. Minner said the delta variant affected travel in Florida, but overall, it was still a strong month for the airport.

International passengers steadily grew to the 15,000 mark, but was still down about 84 percent compared to levels seen before the pandemic. Thirteen routes out of Tampa — mostly international flights — have yet to resume.

“That is hopefully set to change,” Minner said.

Lufthansa Group is launching its first North American connection through Tampa through its brand, Eurowings Discover. The routes to Frankfurt are set to begin Dec. 16.

The airport also expects the British Airway flight to London’s Gatwick Airport to return by Nov. 1, but Minner said the date is tentative based on easing international restrictions and vaccinations requirements.

Tampa International was ranked the second in the large airport category of this year’s J.D. Power’s North America Airport Satisfaction Study. It was one point away from a tie in the No. 1 spot with Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Many airports fell in their satisfaction ratings due to facility closures tied to the pandemic, the study found.

In Tampa, more than 90 percent of its retail and dining options are open, Minner said.