Orlando Soars To No. 1; TIA 4th
By TED JACKOVICS [email protected]
Published: Apr 8, 2005
TAMPA - Orlando International Airport surpassed Miami International Airport as Florida's busiest in 2004, and Tampa International Airport remained No. 4 with 8.7 million departing passengers.
Four of the state's top five airports, with the exception of Miami, posted double-digit growth in passenger departures in 2004 compared with the previous year, Florida Department of Transportation data show.
The continued surge in passenger travel could augment revenue for Tampa International, which ranks 29th nationally in passenger traffic.
Tampa International concession revenue rose from $36 million in February 2004 to $37.7 million in February 2005, the most recent period data are available. That is 26.8 percent higher than $29.8 million in February 2002, a period the post-terrorism travel recovery began.
``The airport depends on concessions for 70 percent of its annual operating revenue,'' said Louis Miller, Tampa International's executive director. That leaves 30 percent from airlines and other sources.
Robust concession sales keep landing fees and airport rental space inexpensive, inducing airlines to increase service in Tampa, Miller said.
Airport officials expect additional discussions with German carrier Lufthansa about serving Tampa, George Elbe, director of air service development, reported.
In recent weeks, airport officials have met with Taca Airlines in San Salvador and US Airways in Washington. Financially troubled US Airways has said it would maintain its schedule of 27 daily departures.
Miller also said Thursday the airport hoped to spur new jobs at Delta Air Lines' maintenance hangar, where 300 of 350 positions will be transferred, mainly to Atlanta. The airport continues to pursue tenants for the hangar US Airways abandoned in 2002.
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport ranked 10th statewide in passenger departures in 2004 with 667,787.
Spokeswoman Michele Routh said she expects between 500,000 and 550,000 passengers overall in 2005.
The airport will have lost three airlines between Nov. 30, when Southeast Airlines ceased operations, and Sunday, when ATA pulls out. Canadian carrier Jetsgo stopped service March 12.
That leaves the Pinellas airport with two major carriers: USA3000, which increased business 57 percent from 17,012 passengers in January 2004 to 20,306 passengers in January 2005; and newcomer Hooters Air.
Last month fledgling carrier Lehigh Valley Air began flying the Pinellas-Allentown, Pa., route, one of those Southeast abandoned. On Thursday, Hooters Air said it would take over the Lehigh Valley flights.