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Tampa International Airport hopes to add service to Dublin, Amsterdam, Bogota, Mexico City, Portland, Salt Lake City

IcelandAir will offer nonstop service to Keflav?k International Airport from Tampa International Airport beginning Sept. 7, 2017. It's one of several international flights landed by the airport, which has used financial incentives to lure new flights. Photos courtesy of IcelandAir
Published Nov. 4, 2016

Tampa International Airport has its sights set on securing new flights to Europe, Latin America and the western United States.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority voted unanimously to update and extend the airport's incentive program, which is used to help lure new airlines and routes. As part of the presentation given to the aviation authority board Thursday, airport staff shared the top markets they plan to go after next.

In Europe, the targets are new flights to Dublin, Amsterdam and Manchester, England. Manchester is the most underserved European route to Tampa Bay, said Chris Minner, the airport's vice president of marketing. He also noted that the international airline KLM recently resumed direct service from Miami International Airport to Amsterdam after a five year absence.

In Latin America, the airport hopes to land new flights to Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia; and Mexico City, building on the service Copa Airlines already offers to Panama City, Panama.

Domestic goals include new nonstop service to San Diego, Portland, and Salt Lake City.

"There are many residents who own real estate in both Tampa Bay and Salt Lake City," Minner said.

Related: Airport surveys rank Tampa International Airport good to great but warn mass transit is lacking

He cited the success of the nonstop service to Seattle from Tampa on Alaska Airlines, which "has been full since day one" since the service started in 2014. Nonstop service to San Francisco will start in February.

The airport's incentive program waives fees and offers cash reimbursement for marketing promotions of new flights. In addition to incentives offered by the airport, Visit Florida, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater and Visit Tampa Bay often put up cash to help sweeten the pot for new airline service.

Read more: Tampa International is willing to spend money to make money on international flights

Since the Tampa airport introduced the incentive program in 2010, international traffic from Tampa has grown to 417,000 passengers, or 113 percent, Minner said.

"Incentive programs have become a standard in the industry," Minner told the board. "We have enjoyed a very effective program. We're asking your permission to continue it forward."

Related: Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano gets another raise to $393,824

The updated policy would extend the program into 2021. It would extend domestic and international short-haul incentives from one-year to year-year terms. This is key is helping secure domestic flights on low cost carriers like Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, Minner said.

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