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Tampa International Airport breaks ground on $25 million hangar, office

Sheltair Aviation’s expansion will target the booming private jet industry.
Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for a 110,000-square-foot hangar and office space at the Sheltair Aviation campus in Tampa on Thursday.
Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for a 110,000-square-foot hangar and office space at the Sheltair Aviation campus in Tampa on Thursday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 21
Updated Oct. 21

A Fort Lauderdale aviation company broke ground Thursday on a new $25 million hangar and office complex at Tampa International Airport, a sign of the increased demand for private jet travel in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale’s Sheltair Aviation plans to open four enclosed hangars up to 33,269 square feet in size, each with their own office spaces sized up to 14,247 square feet. In all, the project will add around 110,000 square feet of space to the company’s existing Tampa operations when it opens in 2022.

The company already has more than 200,000 square feet of space in Tampa. But the new expansion will allow more space for additional large planes, said Sheltair chief operating officer Todd Anderson.

“The program that we’re doing, it’s really indicative of what’s been going on with Tampa over the past five to eight years, with the explosive growth that’s going on,” Anderson said. “And our business is growing along with it.”

A group of Sheltair employees assist in a groundbreaking ceremony for a hangar and office space expansion at Tampa International Airport on Thursday.
A group of Sheltair employees assist in a groundbreaking ceremony for a hangar and office space expansion at Tampa International Airport on Thursday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Related: Tampa airport sets express curbside check-in for flyers without checked bags

Tampa International Airport has seen its private jet business rise 25 percent in the past year, with CEO Joe Lopano calling it “one of the success stories of the past few years.” That reflects the booming global demand for private jets, which has grown so robust that aviation companies have struggled to keep up.

At least part of that demand can be chalked up to health and safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s people that are not flying on the airlines right now. They’d rather fly privately,” Anderson said. “We have seen a surge in that because of people not wanting to fly on a commercial airline.”

Sheltair bought what was formerly known as the Tampa Jet Center in 2016 and has grown a couple of times over the years, most recently with a $6.5 million, 7.5-acre expansion in 2018.

Sheltair also operates facilities at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Lakeland Linder International Airport, both of which could see expansions in the coming years, Anderson said.