After making a full recovery from the pandemic, Tampa International Airport is expecting strong travel demand to continue into next year.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which operates the region’s largest airport, expects to see more passengers and higher revenues due to Tampa Bay’s economic growth, according to the 2024 fiscal year budget. On Thursday, the aviation authority’s board members voted to approve the 2024 budget. Its fiscal year begins in October.
The airport projects a record 25.2 million passengers between October 2023 and September 2024 — up 8.5% from 2023.
Revenues are expected to go up $29.1 million from 2023′s fiscal year to $408.6 million. The higher travel demand is set to increase profits for parking, concessions and rental cars.
Rents for the new SkyCenter One office building are also bringing cash in for the airport. The building is projected to generate $7.3 million in 2024, according to the annual budget.
In 2023, the number of passengers surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Now the airport anticipates even more growth each year and is moving forward on several long-term projects to meet the demand. Construction on the new Airside D that was delayed because of the pandemic is set to begin next year. The airport is also discussing adding another terminal to accommodate nearly 40 million annual passengers within the next two decades.
“It’s been a year of great accomplishments. And we’re embarking on a new phase of growth with the Airside D development which we’re all very excited about,” said Tampa International Airport’s CEO Joe Lopano.
But costs are also going up for Tampa International.
The airport projects to spend $17.7 million more in 2024. Operating expenses will total $198.9 million, according to the budget, 9.8% higher than 2023.
High inflation will continue affecting most of the airport’s expenses, according to the budget. Tampa International is planning to hire more people to meet the higher travel demand and also spend more than $95 million on infrastructure upgrades in 2024.
Those projects include replacing Airside E shuttle cars, fixing one of the runways and several taxiways at the executive airport, replacing parking equipment and upgrading a baggage screening system.
The airport still expects its rising revenue would offset the growing costs.
And after a year like 2023, which the aviation authority expects will wrap up with revenues 10.5% higher than it planned for, officials said the airport is in its “strongest financial position ever.”