17:08 PM

TPA prepares for 2020 Hurricane Season

When it comes to hurricane planning, Tampa International Airport has a simple philosophy: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Under normal circumstances, it’s a massive undertaking that involves coordinating a workforce of thousands spread across dozens of different companies, including airlines, concessions workers, construction crews and federal agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.

This year’s planning process has an added wrinkle: The COVID-19 pandemic.

While our fundamental planning and response has not changed, our team is reinventing how we execute.

For example, key emergency updates will be conducted via web and teleconference, to the extent possible, and those employees allowed into our Emergency Operations Center will be limited in order to ensure social distancing. All those entering the space will be required to wear face masks — now an Airport requirement for all employees — and follow other proper safety precautions. Essential employees who remain at the Airport, who will be a key aspect of our response, will stay in separate rooms and congregate in as small groups as possible to follow recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

It’s also critically important that people remember Tampa International Airport is not equipped as a hurricane shelter. This is especially true this year, given concerns over COVID-19 and additional safety measures that may be required to keep residents safe.

As always, TPA will work closely with our partners at Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa to communicate open shelter information to our passengers, or any other vital messages our community needs to receive.

Safety is at the core of everything we do at TPA — there is nothing more important.

We frequently test our plans, conducting tabletop and simulated exercises, and our team members regularly review them internally with our key stakeholders to ensure they are up-to-date and cover any new developments. We maintain a strong partnership with the National Weather Service to provide the most accurate and up-to-date storm predictions, allowing our team to make critical operational decisions such as suspending and resuming Airport operations.

The Airport’s goal is simple: Weather the storm and resume normal operations as soon as safely possible in order to help the region fully recover.