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Tampa International Airport looks to open 5th airside terminal by 2027

Airside D was scheduled to finish in 2024 until the pandemic hit.
A rendering of Airside D (on the right) at Tampa International Airport. It's set to be finished in Fall 2027.
A rendering of Airside D (on the right) at Tampa International Airport. It's set to be finished in Fall 2027. [ Courtesy of Tampa International Airport ]
Published Jun. 2|Updated Jun. 2

Tampa International Airport needs more gates for airplanes, airport officials said, and there’s now a timeline in place to add a fifth airside terminal.

After being paused by the pandemic, the airside D project could finish construction by the fall of 2027, airport adviser Pete Ricondo told the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority on Thursday. Construction on the new terminal is expected to cost $787.4 million, higher than previous estimates.

Related: What's the future of post-pandemic travel? Tampa International Airport plans to find out.

Airport officials paused plans for airside D in 2020 when air travel dropped 95% as the coronavirus spread around the world. At the time, project costs were estimated at $690 million, with a 2024 completion date. Tampa has recovered from the pandemic faster than most other U.S. airports. After reevaluating its needs, officials decided to move forward with the new terminal.

A rendering of Airside D's shuttle platform center at Tampa International Airport.
A rendering of Airside D's shuttle platform center at Tampa International Airport. [ Courtesy of Tampa International Airport ]

Airside D will have 16 swing gates, as originally planned, that can switch between domestic and international flights. The new arm of Tampa’s hub-and-spoke design will be approximately 563,000 square feet, with “state of the art” Transportation Security Agency screening, an outdoor terrace, room for concessions, workspace and the latest technology for advertising.

“This new airside will be a world-class serving,” Ricondo said.

Ricondo and Associates has worked on reevaluating the airside and the airport’s master plan, presenting its findings and adjusted timeline to the aviation authority board. The Tampa International Airport staff plans to recommend including the new airside terminal into the 2023 Capital Improvement Program and is timeline. The board is set to vote on it in September.

Tampa International’s modern terminal opened 51 years ago and was highly regarded for its hub-and-spoke design, allowing passengers to travel to airsides from the main terminal through futuristic shuttles. The airport currently has four airsides stemming from the center: A, C, E and F.

A rendering of Airside D's concession hub at Tampa International Airport.
A rendering of Airside D's concession hub at Tampa International Airport. [ Courtesy of Tampa International Airport ]

Airport officials project more than 34 million passengers will pass through the airport in 2037, which will require 75 total gates. The airport currently has 56 gates. Ricondo said adding airside D will help improve efficiency.

The site of airside D is currently used as a hardstand — which cargo operators, UPS and Amazon use as well as parking for passenger planes. A replacement for the hardstand is in development and is set to be north of airside C and have greater capacity.

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A rendering of Airside D's integrated holdrooms at Tampa International Airport.
A rendering of Airside D's integrated holdrooms at Tampa International Airport. [ Courtesy of Tampa International Airport ]

The new airside could also give the airport more breathing room for flight reroutes, officials said. On May 29, the Federal Aviation Administration diverted 22 flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale due to severe weather, said John Tiliacos, the Tampa airport’s executive director of operations. Most of those flights were international and required access to customs. The Tampa airport currently has 5 international flight gates.

“In addition to meeting the future demand that airside D brings us, it provides us with greater operational flexibility,” Tiliacos said.

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