22:24 PM

HCAA Board gets a look into the future of Tampa International Airport

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board of Directors and staff this week got a glimpse of Tampa International Airport’s future in a presentation of the 2022 Master Plan Update baseline forecast.

The Feb. 3 presentation explained the methodology behind the important forecast which will provide the basis for determining future facility requirements and shape the Airport’s development plan. The forecast will be used to identify future facility constraints, which in turn, will be used to determine future capital improvements projects necessary to accommodate future passenger demand, and the needs of TPA’s passengers, airlines and the community in general.

Predicting future passenger traffic and operations is no small or easy task, particularly as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted airlines around the globe. The Airport is an engine for economic activity, helping sustain economic growth for the Tampa Bay region. Forecasting future demand is critically important to help shape the Airport’s development plan and ensure that the Airport continues to serve the needs of the community.

Ricondo and Associates, Inc., the airport planning and design consulting firm leading the development of the TPA's 2022 Master Plan Update, presented a series of activity forecasts to the Board. Ricondo’s findings pointed to examples of the region’s resiliency, particularly in the areas of tourism and business development. Among some of the key projections in the presentation: TPA is forecast to accommodate up to 38.8 million annual passengers, 402,000 tons of cargo per year and 344,000 annual aircraft operations by the year 2042. By comparison, TPA served a record 22.2 million passengers in 2019, the complete year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on travel.

The projections of aviation activity take into account many factors including historical passenger demand, socioeconomic and demographic data, changes in passenger demand patterns, airline strategies in response to the pandemic, leisure and business travel trends, overall travel restrictions, as well as airline partnerships and alliances. All these factors will help inform and shape the Airport’s future.

The Master Plan Update is a regular revalidation process prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). A Master Plan Update is being undertaken to analyze TPA’s overall capacity and identify operational and maintenance needs, customer enhancements and any new or emerging trends that are anticipated to influence existing operations and facilities.

The primary goals of the 2022 MPU include: 

  • Creation of a new 20-year passenger forecast 
  • Reassessment of Airside D, including timing and space program 
  • Identification of new or emerging trends/technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and touchless technologies for passenger processing 
  • Assessment of TPA’s existing airfield capacity and analysis of whether a third parallel runway may be needed 
  • Comprehensive assessment of the capacity needs and operational enhancements needed to support the growth and success of all business sectors operating at TPA

The baseline forecasts will be submitted to the FAA for review and approval in February 2022.