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Passenger traffic is booming at TIA as international flights take off

International travel was up 30 percent at Tampa International Airport in October from a year ago, thanks to German airline Lufthansa starting new nonstop service to Frankfurt in September, and Edelweiss adding another flight to Zurich.
International travel was up 30 percent at Tampa International Airport in October from a year ago, thanks to German airline Lufthansa starting new nonstop service to Frankfurt in September, and Edelweiss adding another flight to Zurich.
Published Dec. 4, 2015

TAMPA — Passenger traffic is climbing and even breaking records at Tampa International Airport, a trend buoyed by flights to and from Europe, airport officials said Thursday.

The airport had nearly 1.5 million passengers in October alone, which is the highest passenger count in the airport's history for the month of October.

Overall, passenger traffic was up 8 percent compared with October last year.

International travel was up 30 percent in October compared with last year, thanks to a new flight via Lufthansa to Frankfurt and an additional flight by Edelweiss to Zurich.

About half of the Tampa airport's international travel comes from flights to and from Europe now. In October, the leading international carriers posted high load factors, meaning their flights to and from Tampa were nearly full. British Airways posted 91 percent capacity for October. Lufthansa's rate was 86 percent and Edelweiss' was 82 percent.

International travel is up 75 percent at the airport since 2010.

Domestic carriers, especially discount airliners, reported growth in October as well. Spirit Airlines had a 72 percent increase in passengers for the month and Frontier Airlines, which will add new nonstop service to St. Louis from Tampa beginning Dec. 19, saw a 35 percent increase.

Tampa International expects more gains in November and December. More than 450,000 people passed through the airport during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — though screening lines for security were never longer than 20 minutes, airport officials said. On Nov. 29, the airport recorded its highest parking rate revenue ever, at $407,000.

In other airport news:

• Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board members approved a new policy Thursday that will allow disabled veterans to park for free in any garage on airport property. Veterans must display a disabled veteran license plate on their car to qualify. The program begins immediately.

• Board member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist questioned how soon Gov. Rick Scott will be able to fill an empty seat on the board formerly held by Sam Rashid, who resigned in October after he made a misogynistic slur on Facebook. The board had no answers as to when a replacement will join the board.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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