16:29 PM

Proposed White House budget includes funding that could bring a new Air Traffic Control Tower to TPA

The FAA facility is among the oldest control towers in the United States.

The Air Traffic Control Tower at Tampa International Airport is now officially on the FAA’s list of towers set for replacement, a big step toward bringing a new, modern structure to TPA's airfield. 

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor announced the news Monday during a press conference underneath the aging tower on the north side of TPA’s Main Terminal. She told the crowd gathered for the announcement that she brought up the need for a new tower while flying aboard Air Force One on President Joe Biden's February visit to Tampa.

“I said 'Mr. President, In Tampa, we have the best airport in the world. It’s the pride of our community, but this air traffic control tower is not up to the standard that we expect.’”

She said she handed the President a packet of information and communications between her office and the FAA.

“He took my packet, and before we had landed in Tampa, he said, ‘Kathy, I’m going to take care of this.’ And sure enough, when President Biden released his budget last week, he included the funds to update and build a new air traffic control tower here at Tampa international Airport,” Castor said as those listening broke into applause.

“I want to thank the bipartisan Tampa Bay Congressional delegation," she said. "They’ve been supportive all the way along and we’re going to need them to make sure that this gets through the appropriations process.”

The FAA Control Tower at Tampa International Airport opened on July 15, 1972.  At the time, it was the tallest control tower in the United States. Now, more than 50 years later, it is among the oldest control towers still in use.

Jen McCoy, a longtime Air Traffic Controller at TPA, who spoke at the press conference, said a new tower is badly needed.

“The air traffic is growing and, with that, our building continues to degrade,” said McCoy. “I think we all can agree that controllers should be in the most modern facilities with the most up-to-date equipment.”

Over the past decade, she said, problems have continued getting worse with electrical and sewage issues and even the elevator occasionally failing, requiring controllers to walk up and down the 20 flights of stairs to and from the control tower cab.

“We just believe that the controllers need to be in an environment that enables them to focus on the job at hand,” she said.

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano thanked Congresswoman Castor for her ongoing work to help bring a new tower to TPA.

“We’ve been at this since I got here in 2011, and Kathy knew this was the one issue that we really need help on in Washington,” Lopano said. “Controllers work every day looking out for the traveling public, and they deserve to have the best facilities in the country.”

No timeline has been set on when construction on a new tower might begin, but Tampa International Airport has designated a potential site west of the Airport Marriott. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently analyzing the property for a future tower.