Tampa Airport CEO unveils “Growth Trajectory” budget

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The FY2013 budget for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority proposes increasing operating revenues by $6.3 million, creating 13 positions and investing more than $67 million in a capital improvement program that includes a welcome feature for Tampa International Airport and air conditioned boarding bridges at all the airsides.

CEO Joe Lopano and the airport executive team last week briefed airport employees and the Aviation Authority board on the budget, dubbed the "Growth Trajectory Plan" to reflect its strategy of sustaining and growing successful programs launched this year.

"Our budget for FY2012 was very aggressive, outlining a plan to increase revenues by $5.5 million. We called it "The Tampa Turnaround Plan," signifying our intention to reverse a years-long trend of declining revenues," Lopano said. "I am happy to tell you that we are on track to deliver an even better performance than we had anticipated."

Operating revenues are nearly as projected, and expenses are $2.7 million less than budgeted. Those financial goals were accomplished without any additional personnel. Instead we shifted resources to achieve our financial goals by introducing new marketing, customer service, IT and concessions programs and renegotiating contracts.

Projections indicate the Aviation Authority will exceed expected profits by more than $1.7 million in FY2012.

Much of the growth in 2013 will come from increases in concessions and parking revenue, as well as an increase in airline revenue due to a small bump in airlines fees.

"We have already seen enormous success in the new food and retail concepts that opened in the spring, with the Shula's restaurants, Columbia Café, and the Swarovski store leading the way," Lopano said.

Advertising revenue increases will also come in part through the digital and dynamic signage throughout the airport.

The 13 new positions at the Aviation Authority in the marketing, human resources, dispatch, procurement, IT and construction departments dovetail with the airport's strategic goals of maintaining customer service excellence and an outstanding safety record, as well as continuing innovative programming and revenue growth and building a culture of accountability.

The budget also includes a 2.5 percent merit-based pay increase that will range from 0 to 5 percent per employee effective in April, and a possible return of a 2 percent 457 Plan match for employees who contribute to their retirement fund, also beginning in April.

The Aviation Authority board is scheduled to vote on the budget at its September meeting.


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