Tampa International Airport has announced plans to upgrade its Airside F terminal in an attempt to attract more international flights to the gateway.
The $27.6 million renovation means the airport would be able to accommodate up to three wide-body international flights simultaneously.
Tampa International Airport’s CEO Joe Lopano said the new focus was on attracting more overseas flights, and proposed the renovations to accommodate this growing part of the airport’s business.
The proposed upgrade of the Airside F terminal would expand the gateway’s ability to handle baggage and would improve the flow of passengers through security and customs, Lopano said. This means the airside could handle up to three wide-body international flights at the same time.
Plans include adding two baggage claim devices to the existing one as well as adding two booths for passport checks bringing the total to eight.
The gateway will also add and improve TSA screening lanes, relocate queues at security checkpoints, increase concessions space and update the WiFi network.
The project requires approval of a budget revision by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board.
If approved, design would begin in March 2012, with construction of the first phase completed by the end of the year and the entire upgrade completed by September 2013.
Airside F, which opened in 1987, handles most of the airport’s international flights, including recently expanded daily nonstop service to London and four flights each week to Cuba, which were launched late last year.
Furthermore, beginning in May, the Swiss airline Edelweiss will fly nonstop twice a week between Tampa and Zurich, also using Airside F.
Lopano, said: “Our international traffic is growing and that trend will continue.
“Beginning this fall, we will face a situation where both the Edelweiss flights serving Zurich and our daily British Airways flights will be arriving at Airside F within an hour of each other.
“The facility needs improvements to guarantee a high level of service now, and in the future, when even more flights will be arriving in a tight time frame.”
Previous plans had called for moving the airport’s international operations to a new North Terminal, a $1 billion project slated to begin in 2015.
However, the downturn in the economy and the resulting decline in passenger traffic has forced postponement of that expansion until at least 2023.
Lopano said: “The Airside F renovation is a lower-cost solution that meets immediate needs.
“These improvements will dramatically improve customer service right away, and maintain that service as the number of international flights serving the airport continues to grow.”